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Posted on Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 11:59 a.m.

Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra focusing on Elgar on Sunday

By Susan Isaacs Nisbett

April may be a cruel month — witness my giant magnolia tree, pink blossoms tinged frostbitten brown — but it’s a great month for music, as local organizations and ensembles wrap up their subscription seasons in a big bow.

For the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra, the final package can be summed up in 1 proper noun: Elgar.


Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra

  • Who: Adam C. Riccinto, director.
  • What: “Elgar Extravaganza.”
  • Where: Towsley Auditorium, in the Morris Lawrence Building on the Washtenaw Community College campus, 4800 East Huron River Drive.
  • When: Sunday, 3:30 p.m.
  • How much: $10 general admission, $5 for students with ID, children 12 and under and seniors (age 65); $25 families of four or more; free for WCC students with ID. Tickets available online at the YSO web site and at the door.

The orchestra’s “Elgar Extravaganza,” Sunday afternoon at Towsley Auditorium on the Washtenaw Community College campus, celebrates the famous English composer (1857-1934) Sir Edward William Elgar with a program that includes the famous “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1,” the Serenade for Strings, the wonderful “Enigma Variations” and the elegiac Cello Concerto, 1 of the most beloved in the repertoire for cello and orchestra.

Listen to Elgar “Enigma Variations”:

“It’s going to be so exciting,” said YSO Music Director Adam Riccinto, speaking by phone last week.

The repertoire was inspired, he said, by the guest soloist, Tony Rymer, the cellist who was the senior laureate of the 2009 Sphinx Competition. For a number of years now, laureates of the Sphinx Competition, a competition for young black and Latino string players, have kept a date with the YSO. The orchestra’s mission, said Riccinto, to serve minority populations and made classical music accessible to a wide population, melds perfectly with that of Sphinx.

Elgar, interestingly enough, was a composer who would relate to that. Elgar was perhaps the first major composer to understand the potential of the gramophone for disseminating music beyond the concert hall and to people who did not necessarily read music. Between 1914 and 1933, he recorded many of his compositions, often with the London Symphony Orchestra, that have served as a fascinating record of his thoughts on his music.

Sunday, we’ll hear cellist Rymer’s and the YSO’s. To join in the festivities, conductor Riccinto recommends buying tickets online. Though tickets should be available at the door, the YSO’s last concert was just about a sell-out, a sign the orchestra is fulfilling the mission it has set for itself. Susan Isaacs Nisbett is a free-lance writer who covers classical music and dance for