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ESO reaches music lovers with Batavia concert, talk

BATAVIA – Jim Kendros doesn’t expect everyone who attends one of his talks to suddenly morph into an expert on the musical classics.

But Kendros, a composer, performer and lecturer on period music, believes anyone willing to put in a little time can become an expert listener to music of all sorts.

Saturday, Kendros shared his enthusiasm and knowledge of music, mixed with a hefty dose of humor, with a gathering of about 50 people in the meeting room at Batavia Public Library.

The talk, sponsored by the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, came in advance of the ESO’s inaugural Batavia concert Thursday.

The orchestra, which usually performs in the Hemmens Auditorium in Elgin, is slated to perform Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” along with pieces from Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, when it takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre at Batavia High School.

Kendros, who is affiliated with orchestras in Lake Forest and Northbrook, came to Batavia on Saturday as part of the ESO’s Listening Club feature, which promotes upcoming performances and orchestral music by educating potential consumers of the ESO’s music on the forms, movements, orchestration and other details that enrich performance pieces.

“You don’t need musical aptitude to appreciate this; you just need a desire to learn,” Kendros said.

He warned those attending Saturday’s talk that the knowledge they amass could lead to unintended consequences.

“From this day forward, you will now be considered by those in your social circles, by your friends, your family, your associates, as the resident expert on classical music,” said Kendros, drawing laughter from the audience.

Kendros centered his talk on pieces by Vivaldi and Tchaikovsky, drawing attention to programmatic elements in Vivaldi’s work and the thematic structure of Tchaikovsky’s.

In Vivaldi’s piece, the composer used his four concertos – titled Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter – to provoke imagery in the minds of listeners, using violins to create imagery of wind, singing birds and a murmuring brook, while using other instruments – such as violas and cellos – to evince barking dogs or gentle French bagpipes in the backcountry.

Plucked strings also were used to represent the sounds of a crackling wood fire or snow and icy rain splashing against windows.

Kendros’ talk also included demonstrations of antique techniques for handling orchestral instruments.

Wendy Evans, manager of outreach and education for the ESO, said the ESO concert and talks are intended to reach out to Tri-Cities residents.

Should the concert prove successful, the ESO may look at Batavia as a site for regular appearances.

“There are a lot of music lovers down here, and the [Batavia Fine Arts Centre] is a beautiful facility,” Evans said.

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