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KY Symphony Orchestra presents ‘Swan Songs,’ the works of Richard Wagner and Anton Bruckner

Kentucky Symphony Orchestra will present “Swan Songs,” a celebration of two Romantic master composers, Richard Wagner and Anton Buckner on March 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Greaves Concert Hall.

As age takes its toll, and knowing you are embarking upon your life’s final work, inspiration often transcends mortality. Such seems to be the case with two Romantic era music giants (Richard Wagner and Anton Bruckner), who expanded the genres of opera and the symphony, and referenced God in their concluding creations.

Richard Wagner (1813-1883) influenced and completely reshaped classical music via his epic operas for which he wrote the texts, music and built a massive theater. Throughout much of his life Wagner, was an atheist laced with some Buddism, while his operatic subject matter revolved around Norse and Germanic mythology. He told his wife Cosima that his “last card” (final work) would focus on the Christian-themed tale of Parsifal, and the reuniting of the Holy Grail, the cup Christ used at the Last Supper, and the spear, which pierced Jesus’s side on the cross.

Anton Bruckner (1824-1896), a devout Catholic throughout his life, began as a organist and composer of church and choral music. His first hearing of Wagner moved him to become somewhat of a “fan-boy,” as Wagner’s sound and expanse of musical boundaries greatly influenced Bruckner’s foray into writing symphonies. Bruckner attended Parsifal’s premiere and met with his idol afterwards, shortly before Wagner’s death. Bruckner dedicated his final work, his Symphony No. 9, to “the beloved God” It was first heard posthumously in 1903.

The KSO performs the U.S. premiere of an orchestral suite from Wagner’s Parsifal (constructed by Andrew Gourlay) with luminous, hypnotic music from all three acts. Bruckner’s 3-movement, unfinished Symphony No. 9 features four Wagner tubas, and closes the book on the opuses of two romantic masters and their respective hat tips to the Creator.

The KSO sets out to prove it can wrestle the heavyweights in this all-orchestral farewell to Dick and Tony — 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16 at Greaves Concert Hall on the campus of NKU.

Tickets $19-35. Select your reserved seats or call call (859) 431-6216. A Live-stream pass (with 60-day access) also available.

Visit kyso.org for additional information.

Order tickets here.

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