With the darkening days of fall might come a turning inward, a time to reflect on one’s life.
That’s the thread running through the Olympia Symphony Orchestra’s “Autumnal Reflections,” scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday.
“I’ve always found the autumn, as we call it in Britain, to be a wonderful time to take stock,” said Huw Edwards, the symphony’s conductor. “All the pieces in the program are very reflective.”
This season, all of the symphony’s concerts are on seasonal themes, but Edwards said this concert could just as easily have been titled “Those Whom the Gods Love Die Young.”
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“Practically all the composers featured this afternoon died at an early age: Schubert 31, Purcell 36, Mozart 36, Gershwin 38, Butterworth 31,” he wrote in the program notes.
The main exception is Richard Strauss, who lived to be 85. The Strauss piece, though, fits the theme perfectly. “Death and Transfiguration,” written when the composer was 26, is about the end of life.
“In this piece, he imagines being an old man on his deathbed and going through the process of dying and then transfiguration,” Edwards said. “It has an uplifting finish.”
Also on the program are Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D. 759 (“Unfinished”); four diverse pieces for orchestra and mezzo-soprano, sung by Cheryse McLeod Lewis of Seattle; and George Butterworth’s “A Shropshire Lad.”
There is a particular poignancy to the latter piece, Edwards said. Butterworth died 100 years ago, killed at the Battle of the Somme during World War I.
“He’s reflective about leaving his homeland to go to war,” Edwards said. “He knew that his return was unlikely.
“He was a wonderful composer, and he only left us eight or 10 pieces. It was such a shame that his life was cut short.”
Lewis will sing the aria “When I am laid in earth,” from Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas;” Mozart’s “Laudamus Te;” George Gershwin’s “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess;” and Moses Hogan’s spiritual “Give Me Jesus.”
“This little set of pieces captures many centuries and moods, and each of the pieces is reflective,” Edwards said.
“Summertime” might seem an ironic choice for a concert titled “Autumnal Reflections,” but though he’s enjoying working with seasonal themes, Edwards pointed out that great music knows no season.
“We always play Sousa marches at summer concerts, but they would still be uplifting in November,” he said. “I wonder what would happen if a performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ would happen in June or August. Would people still go?”
Besides, “Summertime” is likely to be a highlight. Lewis, who’s been praised by several critics for the richness of her voice, understudied the role of Bess on a national Broadway tour of “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess: The Musical” in 2014.
If the concert’s theme fits well after Daylight Savings Time ended, so too does its time. The orchestra, which typically plays at 7 p.m. Sundays, is experimenting with a matinee for this concert.
The earlier time is likely to be popular for another reason.
“The Seahawks have a huge game at 5:30 p.m.,” Edwards said.
What: The Olympia Symphony Orchestra and mezzo-soprano Cheryse McLeod Lewis of Seattle greet fall with a concert of pieces in a reflective mood.
When: 3 p.m. Sunday.
Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia.