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Columbus to weather ‘The Four Seasons’ onstage with Columbus Symphony Orchestra

Courtesy of Rolanda Copley

Columbus sometimes experiences all four seasons in one day, but not usually within the comfort of a theater.

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra is scheduled to present “The Four Seasons” program Friday through Sunday at the Southern Theatre.

The symphony plans to perform all four seasons of Antonio Vivaldi’s famous violin concertos as well as his String Sinfonia “alla Rustica,” “The Tempest” by Matthew Locke, and “Lamento” in F minor by Locatelli.

“‘The Four Seasons’ is one of the most beloved works in classical music, appealing to not only the seasoned classical music fan but the beginner as well,” said Rolanda Copley, CSO publicist, in an email. “Most people know the piece whether they realize it or not, and longtime fans never tire of hearing it done well.”

The CSO brought in Monica Huggett to conduct and serve as violinist for the program. Huggett is artistic director of the Portland Baroque Orchestra in Oregon and artistic director of the Juilliard Music School’s Historical Performance program.

She has worked as both a conductor and violinist for about 30 years, and she said it’s often easier for the other musicians to follow her lead when performing both roles simultaneously.

“If you are using a small ensemble, it’s very effective,” Huggett said. “You have the added bonus that you can actually demonstrate exactly how you want them to play something, which of course the conductor cannot do. I can actually just play to them exactly how I want them to play and they find that quite a lot easier – they just do what I did.”

Huggett has played violin since she was 6 years old and said she thinks she was drawn to Baroque music partly because it matches her independent spirit.

“I don’t much like being told what to do or how to do it,” Huggett said. “I went to music college in 1969 – I’m a child of my time.”

She developed a fondness for the Baroque violin while attending the Royal Academy of Music in London.

“I discovered this was a language which was much less rigid and where you could express your own character and develop your own style, and it was very liberating,” Huggett said.

Of this program, she said the audience should expect a musical theater-style performance, and her co-musicians should be prepared for a different orchestral experience as well.

“I’m hoping that the orchestra will give me the benefit of the doubt and cast off some of their preconceptions about how things should sound because they might find some of the things I do shocking,” she said.

Though she won’t practice with the orchestra until Wednesday, Huggett and CSO music director Jean-Marie Zeitouni have worked on the program for about a year. Huggett was asked to coordinate a “The Four Seasons” performance, and she also chose a few other works she thought would work well with the concertos. Huggett said she chose to insert “The Tempest” between the “Autumn” and “Winter” sections because it helps reflect the changing of the seasons and also works as a musical transition between the pieces.

“I just thought it’s a time of year when you get tempests between autumn and winter, and this is a magical piece,” she said. “It’s a very different harmonic language than ‘The Four Seasons,’ but I think it binds together and it’s extremely graphic. I mean, you can really see the sea turning.”

Connor Notestine, a second-year in musicology, said he enjoys the Vivaldi classic.

“I’ve always liked it,” the euphonium player said. “I didn’t know there was a performance … but I’d definitely think of going.”

Performances on Friday and Saturday will begin at 8 p.m., and Sunday’s show will start at 3 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $65 from the CAPA Ticket Center or Ticketmaster, and students can buy $5 tickets from the Ohio Union or through the PNC Arts Alive website.

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