MSO presenting dance-themed show

With forgivable optimism, the Minot Symphony Orchestra is presenting “Dance into Spring!” for its concert on Saturday at Ann Nicole Nelson Hall at Minot State University. Director Scott Seaton has constructed his program around “L’oiseau de Feu (The Firebird): Suite from the Ballet” by Igor Stravinsky, the first project Stravinsky composed for the “Ballets Russes” in 1910.

“It’s in the period that (Russian composers) were getting away from the Romantic Era,” said Seaton. “There are a lot of dance elements built into it, such as the ‘Infernal dance of King Kastchei’ and exotic lyricism. It features a lot of wind players and brass, with a lot of soloists – horn, bassoon, oboe. In fact, all have something very important in the piece.”

From the Introduction through the Firebird and its Dance through the Princesses’ round dance and the Berceuse or lullaby, Seaton said, “It culminates in one of the most epic conclusions you can imagine.”

Also featured on the program is Edouard Lalo’s “Cello Concerto in D minor” with soloist Madeleine Kabat.

“She was the first person that popped in my mind when I decided on this piece,” Seaton said. “She’s a very, very talented musician, and I have worked with her several times.”

Kabat was principal cellist in the Mansfield (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra for which Seaton has been guest conductor. She was principal cellist of the Verbier Festival Orchestra in 2008 and toured Europe with the orchestra in October 2009. The Verbier is similar to the International Music Camp, but situated in Switzerland. The Verbier auditions this year attracted more than 1,000 musicians from around the world. The concerto has a Spanish flavor, with dances embedded in the piece.

The actual opening of the evening is “Danzon No. 2” by Arturo Marques, a contemporary Mexican musician. It debuted in 1994 and reflects on a dance style called “Danzon,” which has its origins in Cuba but is a very important part of the folklore of the Mexican state of Veracruz.

“It’s one of the most fun pieces I’ve found in years, very rhythmic,” said Seaton. “You’ll want to get up and dance.”

Following the intermission is Gabriel Faure’s “Pavane, Op. 50,” based on a medieval dance form in which the dancers move very slowly and precisely.

“It has elegant melodies in the woodwinds and strings,” Seaton said. Faure originally wrote it for the piano, but later scored it for orchestra and optional chorus. It also became part of the “Ballets Russes” in 1917.

There will be a pre-concert lecture Saturday on the nuances of the works presented, beginning at 6:30 p.m., by Erik Anderson, principal cellist for the MSO. This talk is also held in Nelson Hall and admission is free. The concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m., is part of the concert season ticket, with one-night tickets available at the door or by calling 858-4228. Prices vary by seat selection and age, and credit cards are accepted.