seal  Purdue News

December 5, 2003

Purdue Orchestra 'dances' with 'Nutcracker' and 'Swan Lake'

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – If you go to sleep with visions of Christmas bills dancing through your dreams, it's possible to exchange them for sugarplums when the Purdue Symphony Orchestra performs Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite" and "Swan Lake" on Sunday, Dec. 14.

The free concert, which begins at 2:30 p.m. at the Long Center, 111 N. Sixth St., Lafayette, is part of the symphony's "Classical Treasures: The Dance."

"No matter how many times people have heard 'The Nutcracker' themes, its magic just continues to happen, especially during the holidays," says orchestra conductor Jay Gephart. "The story is sweet, but beyond that the music is so magical. It's very easy to imagine all the wonderful things depicted in the ballet."

The suite, which includes all the character dances as well as the famous "Waltz of the Flowers," contains "the most memorable parts of the ballet," Gephart says. "The character dances are very tuneful and they're what folks leave the theater remembering."

Each of the dances will feature individual or section solos on different instruments, including the celeste, bass clarinet, flutes and horns.

"What continually amazes me is how the children in the audience come alive," Gephart says. "Watching them brings it to life and makes it a whole new experience. And the Purdue students love playing 'Nutcracker.' It doesn't seem to have lost the magic for them either."

"Swan Lake" may not have Christmas ties, but its waltz also ranks as a favorite orchestral dance work. Despite its familiarity, most of the Purdue's orchestra members have never performed "Swan Lake" before.

"They approach it with a certain level of energy because it is new to them," Gephart says.

"Swan Lake" also boasts a level of complexity that goes beyond "The Nutcracker."

"Tchaikovsky's writing in 'Swan Lake' is more mature, and the brass likes it because it asks much more of them," Gephart says.

The concert of classical dance works concludes with "Polka and Fugue" from "Shvanda," an opera by Jaromir Weinberger. The orchestra does not turn into a polka band for the piece, but instead delivers a polka in a more classical style. Serving as counterpoint to the polka's liveliness is the fugue, "which is as complex as any written by Bach," Gephart says.

The organ enters at the work's finale.

"It's real powerful, as Weinberger brings both the polka and fugue themes together," Gephart says.

"Classical Treasures: The Dance" brings the fall 2003 concerts to a close for the Purdue Symphony Orchestra. The ensemble's next concert will be Sunday, Feb. 22, at the Long Center. The orchestra also will perform at the Hilbert Circle Theatre in Indianapolis on Sunday, April 4.

For more information call (765) 496-6785 or visit the bands Web site.

Writer: Marydell Forbes, (765) 496-7704,

Source: Kathy Matter, Purdue Bands public relations director, (765) 496-6785,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page