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Dancing with the Symphony
October 12, 2019 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm$15
Dancing with the Symphony
The Plano Symphony Orchestra and the Plano International Festival are proud to present an exciting new program that combines live music from PSO musicians with dance performances from three very distinct cultural traditions, all in one magical evening. On Saturday, October 12 in downtown Plano’s Courtyard Theater, a Plano Symphony string ensemble will play renditions of Mexican, Russian, American and Indian music to accompany specially choreographed dances from Mexico 2000 Ballet Folklorico, the Ballet Ensemble of Texas, and the Srutilaya School of Classical Indian Dance.
While a string ensemble playing Tchaikovsky to a ballet performance of Swan Lake is quite normal and fitting, it is unusual to have only strings play the mariachi music that accompanies the heel-clicking and skirt-swirling performances of ballet Folklorico. This Mexican dance tradition will be presented by Mexico 2000 Ballet Folklorico, a professional dance group that performs across Texas and works for the preservation of the dance, music, history and traditions of México. They will perform three dances: El Son de la Negra, Las Alazanas, and El Jarabe Tapatio, which will be instantly recognizable as one of the most popular and widely performed mariachi pieces in the world.
The PSO string musicians have a special challenge in performing traditional Indian Carnatic music, which will accompany dancers from the Srutilaya School of Dance. They will perform to Thillana “Sindhu Bhairavi”, an acclaimed piece by famed Indian Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri. Indian Carnatic music may include violins but is mainly played by a multitude of traditional instruments such as the vina, mridangam, and tambura. Dr. Jennifer Wheeler, a PSO flutist, had the task of transcribing the raga to be playable by the string ensemble, which was a challenging feat.
Rounding out the show, the Ballet Ensemble of Texas will perform Tchaikovsky’s Danses des Petit Cygnes (Little Swans) and a specially choreographed piece called Diamonds, set to Palladio Movement 1 by Karl Jenkins. This dramatic piece will also be instantly recognizable for being featured in the De Beers diamond commercials of the 1990s. The Ballet Ensemble of Texas is an award-winning ballet company and school in Coppell under the artistic direction of Thom Clower.
This cultural fusion of music and dance is taking place on the evening of the Plano International Festival as a special collaboration with the PSO. It is the only portion of the Festival that requires a ticket, and all proceeds will benefit the PSO Education Scholarship Program which provides private music lessons for talented PISD middle school students with musical talent but limited financial means. The program, just three years old, is already a great success – last year, 13 students received scholarships, and this year 17 students have received them. It is one of several community outreach efforts by the PSO.
“Never before have I been involved with a project with quite this range of diverse music in one performance. The challenges of translating a Classical Indian raga for western strings is a daunting one, but well worth the effort! The beauty of music and dance transcends cultures and gives us all the opportunity to connect with each other by bridging between familiar and unfamiliar styles.”—Dr. Jennifer Wheeler