Hopefully, by now you’ve received your 2015 Wintergreen Summer Music Festival and Academy brochure in the mail. (If not, call the office at (434) 325-8292 and request one be sent to you, or view it online here.)
When you open it up, we know you’ll be struck by the beautiful pictures of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the six exciting categories of offerings, the caliber of guest artists, the variety of programming, and the sheer volume of content that we are able to fit into four short weeks.
But – what about the cover: a “20,” surrounded by swirls and music notes, and set in green and silver? What’s the significance of this seemly straightforward design?
The “20” is obvious, as this year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of a vision – a vision of the already stunning Blue Ridge Mountains being further uplifted with excellent live music. Yes – in 1995 a small group of Wintergreen residents decided to form a performing arts organization, bringing music to the mountains. That decision is now a fully formed festival and academy!
And, with a bit of googling, the green and sliver is also fairly clear, as emerald and platinum are the traditional 20th anniversary colors.
But the music?
Well, you might recognize the music on the bottom left. It’s the famous opening to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.
Seems like an odd choice, I know. After all, most people know this famous theme as “Fate [as in death] knocking at the door.” Composers such as Mahler and Verdi have quoted it to symbolize a foreboding or otherwise powerfully negative emotion. This is not what you would except for an upbeat 20th birthday party!
We are using it, however, because of what happens to these four humble notes throughout the piece. The legendary short-short-short-long rhythm appears in each movement. It grows, develops, repeats, and finds itself in every corner of the piece. Eventually, it bursts forth into a finale that is victorious and triumphant (that 4th movement melody is the other snippet of music in the design). Yes, a small kernel of an idea becomes a masterpiece of epic proportions – just like Wintergreen Performing Arts!
And the swirls? Well, they all sprout from the five-line musical staves, signifying the natural and beautiful growth that we expect to experience in WPA’s future.
This symbolism, in a nutshell, is why I chose this iconic music for the 2015 'look' and why I programmed this epic symphony to conclude the 2015 Wintergreen Summer Music Festival. That, and it’s Beethoven 5th performed by top musicians from around the country and led by WPA favorite Josep Caballé-Domenech. Who can resist that? (Get your tickets now to ensure a seat!)
If you just can’t wait, you can study up now! Here’s a marvelous set of videos by Gerard Schwarz taking you inside the entire symphony. I think you’ll find that its reputation as one of the most important pieces of classical music is well deserved.
Enjoy! See you in July! - Erin Freeman, WPA Artistic Director