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Orchestra performs French and Russian works

Friday and Saturday, March 7-8, 2008, 8 p.m. Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall

The Princeton University Orchestra, under the direction of Michael Pratt, will perform popular works of Maurice Ravel, Sergei Prokofiev and Modest Mussorgsky in concerts at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 7-8, in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall.

The program will open with Ravel's "Mother Goose Suite." Inspired in part by the celebrated collection of children's tales, Ravel composed the work for four-hand piano performance by two children whom he knew personally. He later set the five short pieces for orchestra, eventually expanding it into a full-length ballet.

The program will continue with the "Lieutenant Kije Suite" of Prokofiev. Part of a complete film score (most of which is now lost), it is one of Prokofiev's most enduring works. The 1932 film was one of the first projects undertaken by Prokofiev for the Soviet government.

Following intermission, the orchestra will perform one of the most beloved pieces from the symphonic repertory, Ravel's brilliant orchestration of a work originally written for solo piano, Mussorsgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." Inspired by sketches by the architect Victor Hartmann, the virtuosic piano work has attracted several composers to cast it for instrumental forces, including the conductor Leopold Stokowski and the rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

"The rich cross-fertilization of the French and Russian musical cultures 100 years back yielded many treasures, none greater than 'Pictures,'" Pratt said. "The majestic 'Great Gate of Kiev' is one of music's great climactic moments."

Tickets for the performances are $18 for general admission, $15 for seniors and $5 for students, with Tiger Pass accepted. They are available online through University Ticketing or by calling (609) 258-1742.

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