Beethoven's Fifth coming to Olympic College with 'personal' symphony performance

Alan Futterman
Special to the Kitsap Sun

Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is quite simply the most famous piece of classical music ever written. The opening four notes, commonly referred to as “fate knocking at the door,” are easily recognizable and were used as the Allied theme for victory during World War II.

Our live performance in the intimate William D. Harvey Theatre at Olympic College will allow the audience to experience this great work “up-close and personal.” The first movement is a riveting rollercoaster ride, which will have both performers and patrons on the edge of their seats. The second movement is a theme and variations introducing the thrilling major triad that will later become the final victory celebration.The third movement is in ¾ time in deference to Mozartian symphonic tradition, but this is no longer a minuet or even a scherzo. Rather, it is a research project into new possibilities of rhythm and instrumentation. Beethoven explores the vast range of the bassoon years before Hector Berlioz made this fashionable. He also gives perhaps the first great orchestral soli to the bass section and bestows upon them a stentorian passage worthy of an Olympic athletic challenge. 

Alan Futterman

After slogging through the mire of C minor and other related keys, we finally arrive at the finale, a declaration of victory with that simple yet powerful fanfare of the C Major triad. Beethoven adds bombast to the triumphal celebration by including, for the first time in a symphony, a full trombone section at the bottom end of the orchestral palette and a piccolo up on top.

Our concert begins in the lobby, with a chamber performance by principal oboist Kristin Guy, principal bassoonist Judith Lawrence, and pianist Coni Liljengren, playing music by Francis Poulenc, whose compositions, though classical, have the easy flow and immediate likability of the popular tunes of 1920s France. They will then be joined by clarinetist David Salge and hornist Ron Gilbert for the first movement of Mozart’s "Quintet for Piano and Winds." Mozart wrote to his father after completing this work, saying this was the finest piece he had ever written, and that he had finally mastered the art of composing for each of these instruments.

The Bremerton Symphony Chorale, directed by LeeAnne Campos, will also offer two movements from Morten Lauridsen’s inspiring "Lux Aeterna." Ms. Campos describes this delightful choral work as “one of great aural beauty which encourages thoughtful contemplation.” A native of the Pacific Northwest, Morten Lauridsen was born in Colfax, Washington in 1943. His highly successful career as a composer and professor of music has spanned decades.

This new symphony experience allows audience members time in the first half to mingle and enjoy beverages and light appetizers while listening to chamber music in the large lobby area outside the theatre. For the second half, all patrons will choose their preferred seats in the auditorium for Beethoven’s Fifth. There are two opportunities to enjoy this experience: Saturday, February 24, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, February 25, 3 p.m., at the William Harvey D. Theatre at Olympic College, 1600 Chester Avenue in Bremerton. Doors open half an hour in advance of each program. Tickets are $28 for adults, $10 for young adults ages 19-29, and $5 for youth, and can be purchased at or by calling 360-373-1722.