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Sedona Symphony returns for third concert of the season Feb. 4

Ralph Skiano (Courtesy/ Sedona Symphony)

Ralph Skiano (Courtesy/ Sedona Symphony)

Originally Published: January 31, 2024 12:11 p.m.

The Sedona Symphony (formerly Verde Valley Sinfonietta) presents its third concert of the 2023-2024 season under the direction of Artistic Director, Janna Hymes. The concert features guest artist Ralph Skiano, performing Weber’s ‘Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 73’ on Sunday, February 4 at 2:30 p.m. in the Sedona Performing Arts Center, 995 Upper Red Rock Loop Road. Debussy’s ‘Petite Suite’, and Mozart’s ‘Symphony No. 35 in D major, K. 385’ round out the program.


Janna Hymes (Courtesy/ Sedona Symphony)

Ralph Skiano currently serves as Principal Clarinetist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra after serving in the same position in the Cincinnati Symphony, the Richmond Symphony, and the Des Moines Metro Opera. He has also appeared as guest principal clarinetist of the Seattle Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra. Critics have praised him for his solo and orchestral performances, describing him as having the ability to bring “the audience closer to the stage, transforming the performance into more of an intimate storytelling” – (Huffington Post).

Mr. Skiano has toured extensively throughout Europe and Asia with the Detroit and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras and can be heard in several recent recordings released by the Detroit Symphony’s label ‘Live from Orchestra Hall’. In addition, he can be seen and heard through an innovative high-definition video archive created by the Detroit Symphony called ‘DSO Replay’.

Always passionate about connecting to audiences, Skiano founded The Atlantic Chamber Ensemble in 2012, with the mission of finding new ways to build meaningful connections to classical music through innovative programming and alternative performance formats. The ensemble continues to serve as a testing ground for new ideas and has successfully generated new audiences for classical music in Virginia.

Mr. Skiano has served on the faculty of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and at the Schools of Music at James Madison University, the College of William and Mary, and Oakland University. An active presenter and clinician, he continues to present masterclasses at universities across the United States.

There is no doubt that the clarinet was Carl Maria von Weber’s favorite wind instrument. Between the years of 1811 and 1816, Weber wrote seven works featuring the clarinet. Six of the seven works were written for Munich court clarinetist Heinrich Baermann. ‘Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 73’ was commissioned by Maximillian I Joseph, King of Bavaria after the success that the composer had with his ‘Concertino Op. 26’, written just before. Written for clarinet in B flat, the concerto follows the form of fast, slow, fast. Weber, primarily an opera composer, incorporated opera-like dramatic passages throughout the work, as indicated by expressive markings such as con duolo (with pain), morendo (dying), con anima (with soul), to name a few. The work premiered in Munich on June 13, 1811, with Maximillian I Joseph in attendance.

Clause Debussy composed a suite for piano four-hands (piano duet with two players playing the same piano simultaneously) from 1886 – 1889 entitled, ‘Petite Suite’. It was first performed by Debussy and pianist-publisher Jacques Durand at a salon in Paris on Feb. 2, 1889. The composition was later orchestrated by Debussy’s colleague, Henri Büsser and premiered on Nov. 4, 1907, with the Orchestre Lamoureux, under the direction of Camille Chevillard. The work consists of four movements, the first two of which were inspired by the poems of Paul Verlaine’s 1869 volume ‘Fêtes galantes’. The poems evoke the era of 18th century aristocrats on country outings, the world depicted in the paintings of Fragonard and Watteau.

‘Symphony No. 35 in D major, K. 385’, also known as the ‘Haffner Symphony’, was composed by Mozart in 1782. The ‘Haffner Symphony’ did not start out as a symphony, but rather a serenade to be used as background music for the ennoblement of Sigmund Haffner (the younger). It was commissioned by the Haffners, a prominent Salzburg family. (It should not be confused with the eight-movement ‘Serenade’ that Mozart wrote in 1776 for the wedding of Marie Elizabeth Haffner to Franz Xavier Spath) The Mozarts knew the Haffners through Sigmund Haffner’s father, Sigmund Haffner (the Elder), who had been mayor of Salzburg and who had helped them out on their early tours of Europe. The commission came to Mozart through his father, Leopold, at a time when he was very busy with teaching, rearranging one of his scores for an opera, and dealing with issues regarding his proposed marriage to Constanze Weber. In fact, it’s possible that Mozart did not make his father’s deadline to have the music completed by Sigmund Haffner’s ennoblement. Mozart later reworked this music into what we now know as the ‘Haffner Symphony’, which had its first performance on March 23, 1783 at the Vienna Burgtheater.

The Feb. 4 concert is co-sponsored by Sedona residents John and Ann Steinbrunner. Ticket prices are $15 - $65 (half price for children) and are available on the Sedona Symphony website at SedonaSymphony.org and at the door on the day of the concert.