Three terms apply to this year’s National Symphony season, which gets under way tonight. Think “70th.” Think “seventh.” And think “farewell.”
From humble beginnings in 1940 under Uruguayan director Hugo Mariani and the auspices of the Education Ministry, the orchestra truly took off in the 1970s, in large part spurred on by President José “Pepe” Figueres’ famous quote: “Why tractors without violins?” Since then, the organization has grown into one of Latin America’s premier orchestras.
This year, the orchestra marks its seventh and final season under director Chosei Komatsu, who divides his time between Japan, the U.S. state of Georgia and Costa Rica.
Komatsu led the orchestra on a 2005 tour of Japan to commemorate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. He is frequently credited with having attracted prestigious guest soloists to symphony performances here.
This weekend’s season opener – with performances tonight and Sunday morning – features U.S. pianist Roger Wright, a native of the state of Texas. On the program are Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky’s Polonaise from the opera “Eugene Onegin,” three dances from Bedrich Smetana’s “The Bartered Bride,” Sergei Rachmaninoff ’s “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor” and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Capriccio Espagnol.”
As always with the symphony’s calendar, concerts are performed twice each weekend of the season. This season’s 12 concerts will take place on: Feb. 26 and 28; Apr. 16 and 18; Apr. 30 and May 2; May 28 and 30; June 11 and 13; June 25 and 27; Aug. 27 and 29; Sept. 24 and 26; Oct. 8 and 10; Oct. 22 and 24; Nov. 5 and 7; and Nov. 19 and 21.
All performances take place at the National Theater in downtown San José. Friday concerts begin at 8 p.m.; Sunday concerts start at 10:30 a.m. Ticket prices range from ¢3,000 to ¢15,000 ($5.45 to $27). For more information, call the theater at 2221-5341 or go to www.teatronacional.go.cr.
–Jeffrey Van Fleet