Beethoven’s Heroic Symphony Press Release


 Heartland Festival Orchestra Artistic Director David Commanday dedicates HFO October 27th concert to his late stepbrother, the US Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.

Peoria, IL:  October 1, 2012— On September 11th Artistic Director David Commanday and his family received devastating news:  a mob stormed the US mission in Benghazi, where Commanday’s stepbrother, J. Christopher Stevens, was stationed as US Ambassador to Libya. During the attack, Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

For Stevens’ extended family, including his mother, Mary Commanday and stepfather, Robert Commanday (David’s father), of Piedmont, California, the 52-year-old ambassador’s death while serving in a region of the world he loved, was a profound personal loss. For our country, the violent attack on members of its diplomatic mission in Benghazi has been a national tragedy.

With Stevens’ death provoking such sorrow worldwide, David Commanday has decided to dedicate the upcoming Heartland Festival Orchestra concert at Five Points Washington as a tribute to Stevens.

“Chris was a remarkable, accomplished, brave man, with a deceptively calm and unassuming persona,” Commanday said. “My family lost a son and brother, but the world lost a great advocate for peace.”

“The sudden tragic loss of Chris changed my world,” Commanday said. “Plans, projects, relationships—all took on a different aspect in light of this blow. I felt the need to dedicate Beethoven’s Eroica (Heroic) Symphony to Chris’ memory. Beethoven himself was a man of the highest ideals, believing profoundly in the brotherhood of mankind.

“Chris was just the kind of hero Beethoven had in mind:  he represented the United States throughout his career in the most difficult political and ideological settings, and always found ways to make friends to foster understanding and progress,” Commanday said. “He ‘waged’ peace with great success, and great courage, and ultimately gave his life—serving the American ideals of freedom, democracy, and human rights.”

The symphony contains a moving funeral march, perhaps first conceived as honoring heroes of the French Revolution.  Transformed in light of Beethoven’s ideals, it can be understood as a tribute to a fallen hero.

Said Commanday:  “Music can work magic in celebrating life and in healing, and it is my hope to offer both in this concert.”

Heartland Festival Orchestra Administrative Director Laura Evancho adds, “The Heartland Festival Orchestra has been deeply moved by the outpouring of support and kindness shown the Commanday family – from our community and from musicians and friends across the country – after this global, yet very personal, tragedy.  All of us have felt a sense of loss and bewilderment at the horrific death of our ambassador to Libya.  At times like this, when we don’t know quite what to do, we can come together and let our emotions speak through the music.”

WHAT:   Beethoven’s ‘Heroic’ Symphony

Rossini: La Scala di Seta Overture

M. Haydn: Concerto for Two Horns, Thomas and Tricia Jöstlein, Soloists

Beethoven – Symphony No. 3, “The Heroic” in E-flat Major, Opus 55

WHEN:  Saturday, October 27, 2012 – 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Five Points Washington, 360 N. Wilmor Rd., Washington, IL 61571

TICKETS: Single tickets – adults $30, students $8.  For tickets and information, call (309) 339-3943,or visit

Concert benefits PARC

Concert sponsored by Baum Family Foundation and Jim & Ede Kidder

CONTACT for more information:

Laura Evancho, Administrative Director
(309) 339-3943


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