A highlight of every Bangor Symphony Orchestra season is hearing a new Lucas Richman composition. “Her Light,” commissioned by Eloise Ricciardelli in honor of her daughter, Cassandra Babbitt, premiered Sunday at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine.
Written to “musically mirror the impact one individual has when her light is a perpetual beacon” for family and friends, it is one of the most intricate and passionate pieces the conductor has created for the BSO.
In his remarks before its premiere, Richman said that he used a nine-note motive — C-A-E-E-A-G-D-D-A — to represent the name Cassandra in a modified rondo form. Babbitt’s long first name added to the complexity of the composition.
“Each time the piece begins to divert from its true path, the beacon brings it back in focus with a return of the main melody,” the program notes on “Her Light” said. “The work reflects on its [Babbitt’s] qualities as a stalwart, selfless and loving family figure combined with the name’s etymological meaning as a seer and prophetess.”
The orchestra performed “Her Light” beautifully in spite of only having the music a short time. Richman said Sunday the piece was “just four days old.” Babbitt, along with most other concertgoers, rose to her feet in appreciation when the conductor lowered his baton.
Rachel Lee Priday mesmerized the audience with her performance of Camille Saint-Saens’ Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor in the first half of the program. She demonstrated everything big city critics have said about her.
Priday’s technique was “forceful” and “dazzling” and she played with a “silvery fluidity.”
Her performance was exhilarating, as was the orchestra’s. Priday and the musicians seemed to be dancing to the lively virtuosity the concerto featured. By the final coda, the audience knew it had witnessed something special and rose to its feet, thundering its appreciation.
The program opened with Johannes Brahms’ “Tragic Overture,” which nearly weeps with grief, and closed with the Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7 in D minor, an equally emotional work, but more hopeful with carefree passages.
Since his arrival in 2010, Richman has focused on taking the symphony to a new level of excellence. The orchestra, until this year, appeared to be taking baby steps forward. But something has changed this season. Richman and his musicians have stopped moving forward with baby steps and have taken a big leap toward achieving perfection.
The Bangor Daily News is a sponsor of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, Its next Masterworks performance will be the Orchestral Showcase, at 3 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Collins Center for the Arts. For information, visit bangorsymphony.org.
Follow the Bangor Daily News on Facebook for the latest Maine news.