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Gazette Premium Content Tchaikovsky works will be explored by the Colorado Springs Philharmonic

by DAVID SCKOLNIK Special to The Gazette - Updated: March 13, 2014 at 11:12 am

Colorado Springs Philharmonic, 8 p.m. Saturday, Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave., $12-$59; 520-7469,

Abbott and Costello. Gilbert and Sullivan. Tom and Jerry. Shakespeare and Tchaikovsky?

Separated in time by almost three centuries, the English playwright could never know how successful his posthumous collaborations with the Russian composer would be. Thomas Wilson and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic will clue us all in.

"Tchaikovsky's Shakespeare" is the second time Wilson has authored a Vanguard Performance. His multimedia exploration of Copland's "Appalachian Spring" in 2013 was highly acclaimed and engaged the orchestra's audience. The new program explores music inspired by "Hamlet," "The Tempest" and "Romeo and Juliet" and includes complete performances of each work.

"By necessity it has to work a little differently," says Wilson, who conducts.

The "Beyond the Score" programs, a form created by the Chicago Symphony that combines music, acting and lecture, dealt with only one piece. The multimedia deconstruction of the work appeared in the first half and the performance of the work in the second. Wilson's multiwork program, though, would be too dense and disconnected if it was parsed that way, he says.

"So we have to weave the presentations throughout the performances and deal with one piece at a time."

There was another problem. Wilson realized "Romeo and Juliet" is the "absolute knockout" of Tchaikovsky's orchestral interpretations of Shakespeare's plays. But it was composed first in 1870. He felt that historical order had to be disregarded.

"You don't want to play that one at the beginning. It's so sublime, it's so perfect. That's where you want to be at the end of the night."

David Sckolnik, Special to The Gazette

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