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FM Symphony Masterworks Concert with Peter Schickele at Festival Concert Hall

March 18, 2017@7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

$14 – $38

PETER SCHICKELE (aka P.D.Q. BACH) is coming to Fargo!

  • Fargo-Moorhead Symphony concerts with guest pianist Jeffrey Biegel
  • Program includes regional premiere of “Concerto for Simply Grand Piano!” by P.D.Q. Bach
  • Peter Schickele himself is coming to Fargo for the event
  • Exclusive speaking event – Peter Schickele “My Memoirs of Fargo”
  • Concert includes side-by-side with FM Area Youth Symphony, winner of 2017 Young Artists Solo Competition, and “Carnival of the Animals” with narration by Peter Schickele, performed by Theatre B’s Pam Strait

Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Masterworks IV concerts

Saturday, March 18 at 7:30 pm

Sunday, March 19 at 2:00 pm

NDSU Festival Concert Hall

Tickets: $30-$38 adult, $15-$18 Student, available at www.fmsymphony.org or at the door

Fargo boy-made-good extraordinaire Peter Schickele is making the journey from his home in New York to his old stomping grounds so that he can hear his newest composition, Concerto for Simply Grand Piano and Orchestra! performed by the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony. Once a high school-aged bassoonist in the FMSO in the 1950s, going on to win four consecutive Grammy awards for his comic P.D.Q. Bach albums and host a long-running NPR radio show Schickele Mix, Peter Schickele introduced millions to the notion that classical music doesn’t have to take itself too seriously.

Now 81 years young, Professor Schickele was coaxed by pianist Jeffrey Biegel into composing one more major work, a piano concerto. The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony was one of fifteen orchestras who contributed to the commission of this piece. While the Colorado Symphony Orchestra gave the concerto its world premiere performance last year, Mr. Schickele has not yet personally heard his piece performed live. His travel has been limited for several months due to health issues, but he recently notified us that he decided to make the trip to Fargo in order to hear his the piece performed by his home town orchestra.

Peter Schickele and P.D.Q. Bach History

Although we claim him as our native son, Peter Schickele was actually born in Ames, Iowa. When his father Rainer Schickele became Chair of the Agricultural Sciences Department at NDSU (then known as North Dakota Agricultural College), the family moved to Fargo when Peter was eleven years old. While attending Fargo Central High School, Peter took lessons in composition from Sigvald Thompson, a music professor at Concordia College and conductor of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra from 1937-1974. As a teenager, Peter was a member of the bassoon section of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony and often performed chamber music with his buddies in living rooms throughout Fargo. Peter graduated in 1952 and left Fargo for Swarthmore College, where he became that institution’s first student to graduate with a music degree. He earned his masters degree in musical composition at Juilliard, where he started putting on humorous concerts with a few friends, inspired by the music of Spike Jones. These annual concerts became bigger and bigger, until in 1972 they had to be moved to Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center. A star was born when Vanguard Records released an album of that live concert, and P.D.Q. Bach was unleashed onto the music scene.

Over the years, Peter Schickele performed thousands of live concerts throughout the world, sometimes swinging into the concert hall on a rope. He released 17 albums, 4 of which won Grammy Awards for Best Comic Album. While he is also an accomplished serious composer with a large catalog of vocal and instrumental works, he is best known for his elaborate parodic persona built around his studies of the fictional “youngest and the oddest of the twenty-odd children” of Johann Sebastian Bach, P.D.Q. Bach. These compositions are for all types and sizes of ensembles, and often feature unusual “instruments,” including  the dill piccolo for playing sour notes, the tromboon (“a cross between a trombone and a bassoon, having all the disadvantages of both”), the lasso d’amore double-reed slide music stand, which he described as having “a range of major third and even less expressiveness,” the pastaphone, an uncooked tube of manicotti pasta played as a horn, and the proctophone (a latex glove attached to a mouthpiece, and “the less said about it, the better”).

Speaking Event – “My Memoirs of Fargo”

Professor Schickele has expressed an interest in giving a public talk while he is here, in which he will reflect on his career and his experiences as a young musician in the Fargo-Moorhead community. Plans are being finalized for this event, look for detailed information expected to be released within the next few days.

Also on the concert program

The Masterworks IV concert will have a lighthearted theme throughout and will celebrate talented young musicians in our community.

“Norwegian Dance No. 1” by Grieg – featuring a side-by-side performance with the FM Area Senior High Youth Symphony

“Trombone Concerto” by Bourgeois – an excerpt performed by Grand Forks Red River High School senior Gabrielle Halliday, winner of the 2017 Young Artist Solo Competition

“Carnival of the Animals” by Saint-Saens, featuring humorous narration written by Peter Schickele and performed by Theatre B’s Pam Strait

“Concerto for Simply Grand Piano!” by P.D.Q. Bach, featuring guest pianist Jeffrey Biegel – REGIONAL PREMIERE


March 18, 2017
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
$14 – $38


Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra


NDSU Festival Concert Hall