Ancient Airs & Dances

The Omaha Symphony leans into looking back, with masterclasses in neo-classical writing by Respighi, Prokofiev, and Brahms, while Principal Timpani Jack Rago steps forward for his Omaha Symphony solo debut.

Sunday, Apr 16 | 2:00 PM
Pre-Concert Talk at 1:30 p.m.


Ankush Kumar Bahl Music Director More
Alejandro Gómez Guillén Assistant Conductor More
Jack Rago* Principal Timpani More

Program Info

  • RESPIGHI: Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite No. 3

  • DRUSCHETSKY: Concerto for Six Timpani and Orchestra

  • PROKOFIEV: Symphony No. 1, “Classical”

  • BRAHMS: Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn

The musicians of the Omaha Symphony present a program that serves as a collective hat-tip—composers of the 19th and 20th centuries bring their own takes to celebration of music from a bygone era. Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances resulted from the composer’s obsessive study of 16th-century lute music. Of his “Classical” Symphony, Prokofiev said “It seemed to me that if Haydn had lived into this era, he would have kept his own style while absorbing things from what was new in music. That’s the kind of symphony I wanted to write.” Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn draws from an obscure woodwind quintet that was mistakenly attributed to the Father of the Symphony. Amid this programming, Principal Timpani Jack Rago makes his first appearance as soloist in front of the Omaha Symphony.

Program Notes

Find your program notes for this concert on the Omaha Symphony app or click on the button below.

Join us at 1:30 p.m. for an art talk in which Karin Campbell, Phil Willson Curator of Contemporary Art, examines Philip Pearlstein's (American, 1924–2022), Kiddie Car-Plane, Airplane and Models (1990).

Variations on earlier themes run the risk of being viewed as odd or too experimental. When Sergei Prokofiev composed his 1917 reinterpretation of the work of Franz Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, he worried his critics would complain he was “contaminating the pure classical pearls with horrible Prokofievish dissonances.” Although reminiscent of Haydn’s Classical forms and techniques, the score of Johannes Brahms’s 1873 variation raised a few eyebrows, as some of its sections contained counterpoints rarely heard in Romantic music. When Ottorino Respighi altered the internal tempos of his Renaissance and Baroque sources in Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite No. 3, many judged his orchestral suite strange and unconventional. Philip Pearlstein’s 1990 painting Kiddie Car-Plane, Airplane and Models is no different. While Pearlstein cites known art[1]historical sources, his aggressive cropping of two nude figures as well as his situation of them in an improbable, contemporary environment makes for a bizarre and jarring picture. Pearlstein relies on familiar themes and motives, but his variation on them challenges viewers’ visual expectations.

The Strauss Performing Arts Center (building 24 on the map below) is located on University Drive North between the Criss Library and the Milo Bail Student Center, parallel to Dodge Street. Parking lots D, E, F, and M are the closest options and will NOT require parking permits on the day of the event. View full map below.

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Programs, artists, dates, and times subject to change.