By Daniel Buckwalter

The stately pine tree. It is taken for granted, perhaps, by any longtime Oregon resident, and almost no Oregonian associates it with Rome, Italy.

Yet the iconic stone pine (also called the umbrella pine and scientifically known as Pinus pinea) is not only ubiquitous in Rome but a symbol of the Eternal City itself, celebrated in Ottorino Respighi’s four-movement Pines of Rome symphony.

It was played with elegant care to an appreciative audience on May 30 by the University of Oregon Symphony Orchestra under the direction of David Jacobs at the Hult Center’s Soreng Theater.

The symphony also delved into the stormy seas with the overture to Richard Wagner’s opera, The Flying Dutchman, as well as the dark and dramatic Symphony in G minor by Johann Christian Bach, the youngest son of Johann Sebastian Bach.

It was the Pines of Rome symphony after intermission, however, that stole the show.

Composed in 1924, it is the second of Respighi’s Roman trilogy, and the music’s grace captures the majestic aspect of these towering trees.

From children at play in the gardens of Villa Borghese in the first movement to the more solemn second movement — Pines Near a Catacomb — the symphony is a loving tribute to the revered stone pines. It makes a listener long to see them.

The third movement, The Pines of Janiculum, is a serene walk at night through the pine forests of Janiculum Hill west of Rome, the second tallest hill in contemporary Rome. The stirring final movement, The Pines of the Appian Way, is a nod to Rome’s military past.

Appian Way in southeast Italy was one of the earliest and strategically important Roman roads of the ancient republic, and a listener can envision soldiers advancing on the historic road.

All of this was beautifully played by the UO Symphony, and if you haven’t yet heard this orchestra perform, I would strongly encourage you to take in a concert next school year. It will be worth it.