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It’s only a couple weeks before Valentine’s Day and the Juneau Symphony is setting the mood with its upcoming concert, “Shakespeare in Love,” which will feature music inspired by love in the works of William Shakespeare.
Juneau Symphony’s concert to feature music inspired by Shakespeare 012418 AE 1 Capital City Weekly It’s only a couple weeks before Valentine’s Day and the Juneau Symphony is setting the mood with its upcoming concert, “Shakespeare in Love,” which will feature music inspired by love in the works of William Shakespeare.

Kyle Farley-Robinson plays live music at the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council 2017 Mayors Awards for the Arts event. Photo by Kari Robinson.


Troy Quinn serves as the Music Director for the Juneau Symphony. Courtesy image.


Kyle Farley-Robinson, a junior at Juneau-Douglas High School, is the soloist for the Juneau Symphony in "Shakespeare in Love." Courtesy image.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Story last updated at 1/23/2018 - 7:19 pm

Juneau Symphony’s concert to feature music inspired by Shakespeare

It’s only a couple weeks before Valentine’s Day and the Juneau Symphony is setting the mood with its upcoming concert, “Shakespeare in Love,” which will feature music inspired by love in the works of William Shakespeare.

“There’s such a vast variety of repertoire to choose from because nearly every composer at some point wrote a piece on Shakespeare’s writing, so there’s a wealth of material out there. The hard part is choosing which pieces to perform,” music director Troy Quinn said. “A lot of his stories of course are tragic love stories — and comedies, he has a lot of farce too, and histories — but of course romantic tragedies make for great romantic music. I think it’s no coincidence that some of the greatest love themes came out of these heart-wrenching stories, particularly ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ which is a timeless one.”

The concert features “Wedding March,” written by Felix Mendelssohn for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream;” “Love Theme” by Nino Rota for the 1968 film adaption of “Romeo and Juliet;” the end credits score by Stephen Warbeck from “Shakespeare in Love,” the 1998 film with a fictional take on the famous playwright’s own love life; Sergei Prokofiev’s “Montagues and Capulets” from “Romeo and Juliet Suite No. 2;” and Piotr Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture.”

Quinn said it’s no accident that he was drawn to select these pieces: they’re classics. When he’s played some of them in the past, he’s had people comment they recognized the music though they hadn’t known where it came from.

One piece that isn’t inspired by the bard is Robert Schumann’s “Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54.” It’s from the Romantic era, so it fits with the overall concert, Quinn said, but it’s featured because it’s what Juneau-Douglas High School student Kyle Farley-Robinson performed and won with at the Juneau Symphony sponsored Youth Solo Competition in May 2017. As the winner of the competition, he’ll be sharing the stage with the Juneau Symphony. It will be his first time getting to play with a full orchestra. Farley-Robinson will be a soloist at the concert, performing the first movement of the piece accompanied by the orchestra. It’s 15 minutes long and is one of the longest first movements in the piano repertoire, Quinn, who had been a judge at the competition, said.

“He has a very mature sound for someone his age. Of course the piece is difficult. It’s a long and taxing piece and he played it well which was impressive,” he said.

“There’s certainly a lot of technical challenges in the piece. I’ve been working on it for about a year now. …There’s three really difficult section for me in the piece, but I think once you can get through the technique, it allows you (to) really bring out the music in it, which is something I like,” Farley-Robinson said.

Farley-Robinson began playing when he was six years old. At the time he considered it something fun to do; now he finds it a way for him to express himself. He practices on average one to two hours a day, he said. Right now, he doesn’t know whether he’ll study music in college, but he knows he wants to continue to play for the rest of his life, whether as an amateur or a professional.

When he was in seventh grade, he won the 2013 Juneau Symphony Youth Solo Competition in the Junior Division. He’s received the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council Jane and Tom Stewart Memorial Award for Excellence in Music and a JAHC Fine Arts Scholarship to attend the Adamant piano camp in Vermont. He also received honorable mention at the 2015 Alaska Piano Competition at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He’s had several solo piano performances at Southeast Alaska Music Fest and has participated in Southeast Honor Fest singing and playing the piano. Currently he is a member of the JDHS Choir where he sings and accompanies others on piano.

“I think what I really love is the musical aspects …really the phrasing, the dynamics,” Farley-Robinson said of the Schumann piece. “You can almost feel the emotions the composer was feeling when they wrote it down. …there are quite a few different parts in it. So it starts out very loud, very assertive but then it gets very quiet and tender, and then it’ll switch back and become loud and almost sort of creepy in some parts and then moves to soft and tender again. There’s lots of emotions you can bring out in the piece.”

“Shakespeare in Love” will take place on Saturday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 28 at 3 p.m. at Juneau-Douglas High School; an hour prior, Quinn will hold a pre-concert conversation. Tickets can be purchased at Hearthside Books, the JACC, and at the door.

Clara Miller is the Capital City Weekly’s staff writer.