East Meets West, Music Meets Storytelling

Music and storytelling — simply put — the foundation of humanities that extends beyond cultural barriers and told many different ways. The Wheeling Symphony will present a free festival celebration that examines the cultural traditions of storytelling through music.

“The East Meets West Festival week will be an exciting presentation of events that explore cultural traditions and musical connections between the Far East and Western music,” said Andre Raphel, WSO music director. “These events will feature diverse artists and focus on the art of storytelling, part of a unique tradition in West Virginia.”

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, at the Waddington Room in Oglebay Institute’s Mansion Museum, the symphony will host, “The Art and Tradition of Storytelling,” an all-star discussion and performance panel that includes Wei Wei, associate concertmaster of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, and Marc Harshman, poet laureate of West Virginia.



Wheeling Symphony’s East Meets West concert includes works by Tan Dun, Beethoven and Rimsky-Korsakov, who are all master storytellers in their own way, and through their music, we are transported into their world and told their tales, sparking the impetus for the evening’s discussion.

Moderated and led by Raphel, the event will take a closer look at the evolution and history of oral storytelling in Appalachian and the western world through readings of various stories by Harshman, while also exploring music themes and phrases introduced in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade played by Wei.

Following the exploration of storytelling, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 15, at the Stifel Fine Arts Center, the symphony will present, “A Musical Journey through Chinese and Western Music,” featuring performances and discussion by two-time Grammy-nominated violinist, Jennifer Frautschi, and pipa player, Lu-Han Li. Once again moderated and led by Raphel, the evening will look at music across cultural landscapes with performances on both the violin and the pipa, a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument, belonging to the plucked category of instruments, sometimes called the Chinese lute.

The evening’s events will identify the power of cultural influence on a composer’s musical journey, which will be represented at the East Meets West concert by the three composers – Tan Dun, Beethoven, Rimsky-Korsakov.

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This rich and intriguing festival is the perfect setup to the amazing East Meets West concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 16, at The Capitol Theatre.

This masterful program fuses the music and culture of East and West traditions with the percussive sweeping rhythm of Tan Dun’s Symphonic Poems of 3 Notes, violinist Jennifer Frautschi performing Beethoven’s lyrical and dramatic Violin Concerto with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, and the dazzling, colorful orchestration in Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade.”

“Well-known as a composer of film scores such as ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,’ Dun’s music has an immediate and visceral appeal. Ms. Frautschi makes her Wheeling debut, and it will be a pleasure to welcome this Grammy-nominated artist,” said Raphel. “I’m especially looking forward to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade “Arabian Nights,” which rounds out the program and features members of the orchestra in notable solo passages connected to the story.”

Prior to the concert, patrons can purchase a pre-show, prix fixe dinner, catered by Rocco Basil in The Capitol Theatre Ballroom starting at 5:30 p.m. The menu includes glazed chicken with pineapple, roasted pork loin with port wine, saffron rice, vegetable medley, salad with ginger dressing and, for dessert, red-wine poached pear.

Pre-show dinner tickets cost $25 per person, including tax and gratutity. For dinner reservations, call 304-232-6191 or email boxoffice@wheelingsymphony.com.

Patrons also can attend the free Concert Talk at 6:30 p.m. where Raphel and other guests will offer an informative and intriguing look at the story behind the music to be presented that evening. Immediately following the performance, attendees can attend a free wine and cheese post-show reception with Raphel and other members of the symphony orchestra.

Tickets start at $18.50 for the concert. Patrons 18 or younger can purchase tickets for $7.50.  Additional discounts are available for college students and groups of 10 or more.

For more information, call 304-232-6191 or visit wheelingsymphony.com. Tickets also can be purchased in person at the box office, located at 1025 Main St., Suite 811, Wheeling.

Bryan Braunlich is marketing and communications director of the Wheeling Symphony.