The MSO Fall Concert: The Pleasure and Science Behind Listening Live to Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons

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The Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra returns to Easton on November 2 and will be offering up a number of remarkable orchestral work that would stand out any time and in any season. The list for November’s performance includes Autumn Legends by William Alwyn featuring Carl Oswald on Oboe and the Symphony No. 45 by Joseph Haydn, affectionately known as the “Farewell” Symphony, composed to celebrate the annual migration of summer musicians back to their families after performing for Prince Nikolaus Esterház at his summer palace at Eszterháza in Hungary.

All good stuff, but the main attraction at the Easton Church of God on that Thursday night is none other than Antonio Vivaldi’s classic Le Quattro Stagioni (the Four Seasons).

Some in the stratified world of classical music might complain that this old workhorse of a crowd pleaser is hardly adventurous terrain for such a gifted collection of superior musicians, but the fact of the matter is this 1723 composition of Vivaldi serves many purposes beyond its orginal intent.

While it is true that the The Four Seasons might be the most popular classical music only  after the the works of Beethoven, its popularity with both musicians and audiences rests on a number of surprising cofactors that makes it so memorial but also so important to be performed.

The first of which is the simple fact that musicians love playing the Four Seasons. While they may intellectually pine at times for the challenges of far more sophisticated and contemporary work, these gifted artists also understand, as the MSO’s music director, Julien Benichou, notes in our Spy interview, it’s simply “great music.”

There is also some good science that backs up the claim that those that hear a live performance of  The Four Seasons feel significantly more alert while EEGs suggest the music impacted “two distinct cognitive processes by producing “exaggerated effects” on one component of mental activity that is tied with the “emotion-reward systems within the brain,” and increasing cognitive functioning.

One can get lost in the weeds here, but the takeaway, as Jeffrey Parker, the MSO’s board president, suggests, is that Vivaldi’s masterpiece is the auditory equivalent of meeting of dear old friend.

That’s hard to beat.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For ticket information about this performance and others by  Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra please go here

 

 

 

About Dave Wheelan

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