July 21, 2024

Shakespeare Festival and Rogue Valley Symphony are a Valentine’s match

The Rogue Valley Symphony performs at OSF's Angus Bowmer Theatre in December. Three holiday shows at the theater were sold out. A Valentine's Day collaboration between RVS and OSF is sold out as well. More collaborations are in the works. Courtesy photo
February 5, 2024

‘A Love Letter to Shakespeare’ follows a successful OSF-RSV Christmas show

By Jim Flint for

This Valentine’s Day the Rogue Valley Symphony and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival will present “A Love Letter to Shakespeare” at 8 p.m. at the Angus Bowmer Theatre in Ashland.

The concert is sure to captivate the hearts and imaginations of audience members with a fusion of compelling melodies and romantic Shakespeare scenes and sonnets.

The unprecedented collaboration will feature music by composers Carl Maria Von Weber, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Leonard Bernstein, Hector Berlioz and Felix Mendelssohn, as well as an all-star lineup of OSF actors.

Martin Majkut will conduct the orchestra and the innovative OSF assistant artistic director Rosa Joshi will direct the dramatic scenes. The program was conceived by the Rogue Valley Symphony’s Executive Director Joelle Graves. April Lowe and Craig Jessen wrote the script that pulls the program’s elements together.

‘A perfect opportunity’

The stars aligned to make the collaboration possible.

Preston Robert Mead
Thilini Ruwangi Dissanayake
Tyrone Wilson
Donna Simone Johnson
Caroline Shaffer

“It was a perfect opportunity,” conductor Majkut said. “OSF had a night off on Feb. 14 and so did the RVS. We just had to go for it.”

Music will set the mood for the evening.

Tim Getman

“It is all inspired by Shakespeare,” Majkut said. “On occasion, the orchestra will interact with actors. The musicians make for great crowd scenes. We also will provide some background music.”

It’s the second pops concert of the season for the symphony, which presented three performances of a holiday show with OSF in mid-December.

‘A good match’
Rosa Joshi

“We found that we really enjoyed working together,” Majkut said. “The experience in December was seamless. Both parties are excited to give our creativity a new outlet to flourish and we plan more events together in the future. OSF and RVS are a good match.”

After the outline of the Valentine’s Day concert was created, Majkut submitted a music proposal to OSF.

“Rosa Joshi directed the selected scenes,” Majkut said. “We met and fine-tuned the program. She is an utter delight to work with. I think the program has a really nice flow.”

Tchaikovsky’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’

Majkut is looking forward to finally performing Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

“I kept a lot of Shakespeare-inspired music in my back pocket over the years.” It’s as if he knew there would be a time and place for it someday, he said.

“I have never scheduled ‘Romeo and Juliet’ until now,” he said. “Absolutely gorgeous as it is, I was waiting for the perfect opportunity to present itself.”

The actors are all OSF-affiliated. They will represent couples in three stages of life — young, adult and mature.

The actors include Donna Simone Johnson, Tim Getman, Caroline Shaffer, Tyrone Wilson, Preston Robert Mead and Thilini Ruwangi Dissanayake. They’ll recite from Shakespeare sonnets and play scenes from “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Troilus and Cressida,” “Henry VI” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

The music will include “Oberon Overture” by Weber, “Much Ado About Nothing Suite” by Korngold, “Romeo and Juliet” overture-fantasia by Tchaikovsky, selections from “West Side Story” by Bernstein, “Beatrice and Benedick Overture” by Berlioz and “Wedding March From A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Mendelssohn.

Tickets to the performance have sold out.

Reach writer Jim Flint at

Picture of Jim


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