If you're weary of holiday music already (we know you're out there) but still long for something with a light classical touch, the Willamette Valley Symphony has you covered this weekend.
It's long been a tradition of the orchestra that it not offer any holiday-themed music during its year-end concert; consider it a bit of counter-programming designed to create an oasis for classical music lovers in the midst of wall-to-wall Christmas tunes.
"People need their ears cleaned with something that's normal," joked Jackie LaRue, the orchestra's executive director.
So the orchestra's program for this weekend's concerts has a light feel to it, but with nary a sleigh bell to be heard.
The centerpiece is Haydn's Symphony 100, which has been dubbed the "Military," but don't be fooled by the nickname, LaRue said: It includes a few references to military themes, but overall "it's a joyful, lighthearted piece, actually. ... Haydn always has humor in this works, and some surprises," and this work is no exception.
The concert also features Grieg's Holberg Suite, which showcases the orchestra's string section. LaRue called the piece, written to honor the Norwegian writer Ludvig Baron Holberg, "very melodic and very rich."
Also on the program is Robert Schumann's Overture, Scherzo and Finale, a piece that LaRue said "should have been a symphony" — all it lacks, she said, is the traditional slow movement. Schumann even referred to piece on one occasion as his "Symphony No. 2." The work includes a number of melodic contrasts, and builds to what LaRue called a "very fast finale, which is very exciting."
The guest conductor for this concert is David Jacobs of the University of Oregon, but LaRue said Jacobs is not among the finalists for the orchestra's music director role, which was left vacant when Sean Paul Mills left the mid-valley for a job at Ball State University. The orchestra has four finalists for the position, and each finalist gets a chance to conduct during one of its four other concerts this season.