Joshua Peacock

Commissioned by Elmar Oliveira, the Savannah Philharmonic and

The Jackson (TN) Symphony

Elmar Oliveira, solo violin   Peter Shannon, conductor


The Savannah Philharmonic opened its eighth season Sept. 10 at the Lucas Theatre with a spectacular showcase of musicianship, rivaled only by the night’s audacious programming.

…it was the second movement of the program’s three pieces that created an extraordinary night of symphonic music, albeit one which perhaps fell on at least a couple of proverbially deaf ears.

The world premiere of a new violin concerto by Richard Sortomme, helmed by and written for world-renowned violinist Elmar Oliveira, is a daring piece of postmodern symphonic music…

… after Oliveira’s stupendous handling of the music and the orchestra’s gusto in its presentation, the response from Saturday’s audience was overwhelmingly positive. The concerto received a standing ovation, duly deserved for a piece which was as daring and beautiful as it was lonely and desolate, coursing a wide swath of emotion and tonal embodiment. The opening movement of the violin concerto, “Moderato,” created a hefty amount of space with a balanced share of dissonance, allowing room for powerful and sweet melodies in the primary theme.

Odd interjections of percussion jaunted the listener, tuning the ear to better receive the romantic notions created by the full orchestra.

Oliveira brilliantly manufactured a host of sounds and tones ranging the length of the violin’s reach. Lonely, broken solos of strumming oscillated with excursions into a high range of staccato notes were as refreshing as they were nearly painful at times…

…The final movement, “Allegro con spirito,” highlighted the string section of the orchestra in a beautiful, sweeping climax. For its part, the entire piece created an immense range of drama in subtle tones and in off-beat, eclectic surprises that were thrilling as a whole when conjoined with the long melodically sweet sections.

For the crowd in this apparently full house, it was a unique experience. Witnessing the birth of a piece of original symphonic music was in itself an experience to have.

Bravo to the Savannah Philharmonic for premiering a new piece of music. Bravo for venturing out of the standard orchestral programming. Bravo to Oliveira and artistic director/conductor Peter Shannon for the sheer enthusiasm and execution.