Respighi’s Roman Festivals

Experience Respighi’s Roman Festivals through the eyes of our great conductor Scott Speck:

“Judging by his music, the great Italian composer Ottorino Respighi loved one thing more than all else: his adopted hometown of Rome. He celebrated it in three enormous tone poems, depicting the pines, fountains, and festivals of Rome. The Mobile Symphony has explored all of these tone poems, and this is our second time tackling Roman Festivals – a 25-minute extravaganza that describes ancient gladiators, an Italian pilgrimage, harvest festival, and a drunken epiphany celebration.

Respighi has an amazing ability to create colors with the instruments of the orchestra. One of the most amazing moments (and biggest thrills) in Roman Festivals comes in the first movement, as a Christian gladiator faces off against a hungry lion. The instrumentation sets the scene perfectly: the piety of the gladiator is represented by a chant-like melody in the strings; and the truly horrifying roar of the lion is depicted- of course- by the growls of the brass. Nothing is held back. I won’t give it away, but I’m warning you: viewer discretion advised. You might want to cover your ears at the climatic moment. Naturally, it is one of the most fun passages to play.

It is a pull-out-all-the-stops kind of concert. It is full of astonishing orchestra showpieces – the kind of music that our orchestra lives to play. And for sheer, visceral, surround-sound stimulation, I cannot imagine a better season opener than Respighi”s Roman Festivals.”