Music News & Reviews

Wichita Symphony Orchestra takes on Beethoven’s Fifth

Daniel Hege
Daniel Hege Courtesy photo

They’re the most famous measures in classical music – if not the entirety of the art form.

But if you’re looking for a different take on the “dah-dah-dah-dum” from Wichita Symphony Orchestra in performances of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony next weekend, don’t expect it from conductor and music director Daniel Hege.

“I’m not interested in making it a preservation of some historical landmark. … I don’t try to say, ‘How can I make this my interpretation?” Hege said. “I’d rather say, ‘How does this speak to us today?’”

Hege said he revels in making classical works meaningful in the present day.

“What’s interesting to me is to take a piece that was written between 1804 and 1808 sound really vital and universal today in 2017,” he said. “I try to go very purely back to the music and ask what the music is trying to say.”

In his eighth season leading the Wichita symphony, Hege said he relies more on the printed music than he does any other interpretations.

“I just think of going back to the score and not listening to recordings or going back to what someone else has done, and simply listening to what the truth of the music is,” he said. “The truth, the power, the music is written in the score, and that’s what Beethoven’s left for us. He didn’t leave CDs or DVDs or YouTube for us to ponder on. … That certainly wasn’t Beethoven’s intent.”

Then as now, he said, the meaning of the music is up for interpretation.

“It mixes with our own experiences of what’s going on in the world,” Hege said. “You would somehow consider things that are happening around you in current events, and in your own life.”

Besides Beethoven’s Fifth, the concert includes pianist Gabriela Martinez featured on Prokofiev’s “Piano Concerto No. 2,” and opens with Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain,” best known from Disney’s “Fantasia.”

Hege said the symphony is taking advantage of the near-Halloween date to put some variety in its program.

“It’s a big, blockbuster piece. It’s like a miniature tone poem. It’s incredibly colorful and beautiful, and Mussorgsky’s just not played that often anymore,” Hege said.


When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29

Where: Century II concert hall, 225 W. Douglas

What: Gabriela Martinez solo on Prokofiev’s “Piano Concerto No. 2,” it is bookended by Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (see related story)

Tickets: $20 to $65, from, by phone at 316-267-7658 or at the symphony box office.