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WSO Celebrating Music as History From West to East Tonight

Maestro John Devlin

WHEELING — The Wheeling Symphony Orchestra will present Music as History from West to East at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Friday, May 20, as part of the WesBanco Capitol Concert Series.

The concert is the culmination of the WSO’s month-long Festival of Ideas series of local presentations celebrating the life of Bill Hogan. The series explored the intersection between art and politics in the lives of three composers whose music will be performed tonight — Florence Price, Richard Wagner and Dmitri Shostakovich. Issues of racism, gender-bias, Stalinism and anti-Semitism were examined through the month of May at panel discussions, a school presentation, performances and other events.

Maestro John Devlin will conduct the orchestra’s performance of Wagner’s “Der Fliegende Hollander Overture” and Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 5 in D Minor.” Assistant Conductor Antoine T. Clark will conduct Price’s “Concert Overture No. 2.”

“We believe that the WSO, as a cultural institution in this city, can serve as a conduit for discussions of both historical and contemporary political issues,” Devlin said. “In January of 2020, I attended a talk at Temple Shalom which brought folks together to discuss issues that faced our Black and Jewish community members. That talk inspired the design of this concert and the Festival of Ideas, which allow us to explore some complex political and social issues through the lens of art.”

“Dmitri Shostakovich is my favorite composer,” continues Devlin. “The music he wrote is very powerful and the story of his life as an artist in the Soviet Union is both tragic and compelling. I look forward to sharing his Symphony No. 5 with our audience and also some insights about his life and work.”

WSO Assistant Conductor Antoine Clark

The orchestra will also be performing Price’s “Concert Overture No. 2” and Wagner’s “Der Fliegende Hollander (Flying Dutchman) Overture.”

Price, a classical composer, pianist and organist was the first African-American woman to have a composition played by a major orchestra. However, as a Black woman, Price faced racial and gender discrimination during her lifetime and her compositions were largely ignored. Wagner, a German composer known chiefly for his operas, expressed anti-Semitic sentiments in his writings and was a favorite of Adolf Hitler. Though his music has been and is still widely performed today, Wagner’s controversial political views raise questions about how his works should be considered by modern audiences.

According to WSO Executive Director Bryan Braunlich, the orchestra has been proud to honor the life of late Wheeling resident Hogan with its Festival of Ideas.

“Bill Hogan was a very special person who was known for his intellect, his wonderful stories and his sincere desire to exchange ideas through meaningful conversation,” Braunlich said. “Bill was an artist in his own right and he was a great supporter of all art forms, including the Wheeling Symphony. We hope that all who knew and loved Bill will honor him by being a part of the conversations and education that we will be sharing during the month of May and beyond.”

Tickets can be purchased by phone at 304-232-6191, via email at boxoffice@wheelingsymphony.com, or in person at the box office.

For tickets or additional information, visit www.wheelingsymphony.com.


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