Four Seasons of Italy and Buenos Aires

Violinist Simone Porter and Fairfax Symphony Orchestra perform first show of the year


Photo courtesy of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra

On Saturday, Feb. 8, the Center for Performing Arts (CFA) hosted the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra’s (FSO) first performance of the new year. Joining them was the violinist Simone Porter in her Virginia debut. Together, they performed Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” and a version of Astor Piazzolla’s “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.” 

Prior to the performance, the music director of the orchestra, Christopher Zimmerman, sat down with Porter to talk about her career and time in Fairfax.

Porter began her career at the age of 10 when she debuted with the Seattle Symphony. Since then, she has traveled the world to perform with many other companies and conductors including Gustavo Dudamel. 

For this show, Porter and the FSO played a concerto that has been around since 1725. Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” is one of the most traveled concertos in the world and quite a familiar piece to many people. But the second part of the show is a much newer production — premiering in 1970.

Porter talked about how the process of playing a modern piece contrasts from performing a classic. “It’s a difference to perform pieces that haven’t been recorded and that I haven’t really grown up listening to,” she said. “Playing something like Beethoven, through osmosis and being a student … I’ve heard that maybe hundreds of times before I actually started developing a relationship with the score. So, playing newer music with a less-traveled path, I think you have to integrate what’s actually on the page in a way that you can get away with not doing. It doesn’t have the weight of tradition.” 

The Piazzolla piece is a tango concerto, and thus a very different sound than Vivaldi’s concerto. The version of “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” that Porter and the FSO performed was created specifically for the string orchestra and solo violinist by Leonid Desyatnikov. 

Porter and the FSO began the night performing a classic that transports the audience to the fields of Italy, yet Piazzolla wanted to convey the inside of dance halls in Buenos Aires. Before the show, Porter told the guests to look out for phrases of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” in Piazzolla’s piece and that an open ear could easily find them. Most notably, a familiar phrase from Vivaldi’s “Winter” is present in Piazzolla’s “Summer,” a nod to the difference in hemisphere between Italy and Buenos Aires.

In addition to this artistic collaboration, the FSO also partnered with Fairfax County Public Schools to promote the integration of music into multiple disciplines. Working with two schools in the county, the Woodburn School for the Fine & Communicative Arts and Westlawn Elementary, the CFA and FSO coordinated a showing of the students’ artistic interpretations of the Vivaldi concerto. 

The process of creating this art went beyond simply listening to the music. The students were encouraged to make connections in various disciplines, such as science and language arts. These connections resulted in paintings and metal sculptures of their interpretations of the music. The artwork was displayed in the CFA lobby for guests to enjoy on the night of the show.