Friday, May 10, 2019

5th Annual Gold and Silver Soirée set for May 31, Get Tickets Now

The Orchestra of Southern Plans For a Fun Evening 
with the 5th Annual Silver and Gold Soirée
By Tanisa Crosby

            While the Orchestra of Southern Utah (OSU) has wrapped up the 2018-2019 concert season, the Orchestra certainly isn’t finished for the year.  The fifth annual Silver and Gold Soiree will takes place on Friday, May 31, at 5-7 P.M. at the Barn at Cedar Meadows.  The Orchestra of Southern Utah enjoys the spring months leading into summer for many reasons, but the biggest one is the Silver and Gold Soiree that has become a fun and unique event.  It features a variety of art forms, including music and art, and is also a chance for those who support the Orchestra to get to know the members off the stage.
            Suzanne Tegland, an OSU Board Member, OSU Violinist, and Soiree Director, has been diligently preparing for this year’s magical evening. In 2015, the OSU Board sat down for a meeting to discuss that year’s new season.  It was there, that Suzanne had the idea about creating an event where patrons and musicians could interact was brought up.  With the help of Ariel Rhodes, OSU Flautist and Woodwind Section Leader, Suzanne and Ariel set up the first Soiree for the end of the concert season in the spring.  Since that first year, the Soiree has become an ongoing event and allows for patrons and those who attend the concerts a chance to get to know the Orchestra.  “We wanted an event that got closer interaction with the musicians and the people who come to the concerts.” Tegland said, “Often, those who attend the concert don’t have the opportunity to really socialize with the Orchestra members.  There’s those on the stage and those in the audience and after a concert there’s not a lot of time to socialize.  The Soiree gets rid of that boundary and allows for those in the audience and those on stage to interact in an open setting.”
            The Soiree also acts as a fundraiser for the Orchestra, helping to fund music rental and purchase costs and helping to keep ticket prices down.  “Ticket sales only cover about 10-15% of operating costs.” Tegland explained, “The Soiree helps fill-in funds that help keep ticket prices down and allows for free tickets to be given for the 4th Grade VIP Passports.”  The biggest part of the Soiree comes from those who donated to the event providing for the silent auction and the drawing.  There are artworks, gift certificates and baskets that have been donated for this event.  “It’s a fun evening out and it’s light,” said Tegland. “We planned it for an early evening, so that those who attend can add it to their evening activities.  People can easily still go out to dinner and catch a movie, but still attend.  People do need to be present for the drawings but not for the silent auction, which allows an open come and go feel.  There will be live music, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and hors d’oeuvres.” Red Acre Farms are providing refreshments with their unique locally sourced and regionally recognized delicacies.
            The Silver and Gold Soiree will take place on Friday, May 31st, from 5-7 P.M. at The Barn at Cedar Meadows, located on 1419 W 3000 N, Cedar City (corner of Bulldog Rd. and 3000 N).  Tickets cost $10 per person. Tickets are mandatory for entry to the event and must be purchased in advance.  The Orchestra is still accepting donations for the drawings and silent auction. To purchase tickets or to make a donation, please call OSU Manager Rebekah Hughes at 435-590-6829 or contact Suzanne Tegland.  Further information:

           Thanks to all who participate in this annual event and special thanks to our donors, musicians, and patrons.  Items will continue to be updated so check back to the blog.

Special Note to OSU Season Ticket Holders:  Your voucher with your season tickets serves as a ticket

Pastel by local artist Steve Yates
 Baltic amber pendant with gradated amber bead chain from Castro & Co. Jewelers
Mixed media piece by local artist Diane Walsh
 Baltic amber pendant with cord from Castro & Co. Jewelers
Thanks to Melissa Palmer for the framed art print donation.
Thanks to Lisa Crestsinger for a large donation of CDs, blues book and trumpet t-shirt. Two baskets of music from Groovacious will be part of the silent auction.
Two Ukuleles (silver and gold) donated by Cedar Music Store and Studio
Thanks to the SimonFest Theatre Company for tickets for their summer season, July 9 to 27, SimonFest website link
 Gold treble clef pendant and chain from Custom Jewelry Gallery
Gift package of mixing bowls and tea towels
from Bulloch Drug
Landscape quilted wall hanging by Debbie Nollan.

Set of Five Foil Prints donated anonymously
Painting by Paul Kuhn donated anonymously
Bath essentials donated by Sara Penny

Polish vase donated by Sara Penny

Classical music and beautiful scenes in Yellowstone, produced by KUED

Xun Sun at Boston College Directors Association's National Conference

OSU Music Director Xun Sun continues to enrich his skills through events such as this conference. The keynote speaker for the conference was Peter Schickele (aka PDQ Bach), a renowned classical music satirist. For more information on this famous composer:

The College Directors Association promotes orchestral music and provides learning opportunities for conductors.  More information:

Xun Sun with Peter Schickele

At the conductor's conference in Boston

Visiting the Berklee College of Music

Visiting MIT

Xun Sun also was also able to get to Harvard during the conference

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Season finale concert photos: R. L. Halversen 2019

Thanks to all involved in the R. L. Halversen Young Artist concert.  We appreciate the dedication of the soloists, composer, and musicians who make this possible.  We also appreciate the extended help from the OSU staff, Heritage Center staff, patrons, and all of the people who make it possible for us to bring you live symphony orchestra music.
Soloists and composer with conductors
Cedar Music Children's Chorus directed by Jolene Heit provided lobby music before the concert.

Flutes warming up before the concert
During the concert

During rehearsal
Dress rehearsal of the tuba suite

Portion of brass section 
Aria Williams with family and conductor Adam Lambert

Piano soloist Aubrey Aikele with conductor Carylee Zwang

Aria Williams and family
Aubrey Aikele with family after the concert

Robert DeBry, composer, with family after the concert
Season finale reception after the concert

Our wonderful serving ladies for the reception.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Concert Review: R. L. Halversen Young Artists Concert

Enviable Potential
By Bryce Christensen

“Old age may have wisdom,” remarks commentator Gretchen Vogel, “but I will always envy youth for its potential.” The stunning (and enviable) potential of youth was fully on display on April 11th in Cedar City’s Heritage Center, where the Orchestra of Southern Utah (OSU) sponsored its annual Roy L. Halversen Young Artists Concert. Named for an outstanding music educator who for decades enhanced the musical arts in Cedar City, the Halversen Concert now enjoys wide recognition as a prime venue for the showcasing of rising new musical stars. And this year’s three featured stars—two instrumentalists and a composer--evinced more than a little enviable potential in their singular musical talents.

As he opened this year’s Halversen concert, dedicated to the theme of “Capture the Moment,” OSU President Harold Shirley heightened the audience’s expectations as he recognized the gifts the night’s featured young artists had already demonstrated in outshining their peers in the competition for inclusion in this concert.

Shirley prepared listeners to listen to the surprising first young musician by urging them to lay aside any preconceptions of the tuba as merely the source of unimportant, slightly silly oompahs in the musical background, never as a solo instrument. What the audience was about to hear, Shirley announced, was a tuba solo, delivering a smooth and “almost buttery” sound that all would relish.

Making good on everything that Shirley had promised, Aria Williams, a sophomore student from Southern Utah University (SUU), then performed Suite for Tuba by Don Haddad. Astonishing all present, Williams poured from her tuba a stream of astonishing musical energy, energy that she modulated with exceptional skill and artistic grace. No, it was not the fairy grace of a piccolo or even the elfin grace of a clarinet. But as a kind of elephantine grace, it was all the more unexpected—and pleasing. Who knew that an elephant could dance so captivatingly? Deftly handling the choreography of this amazing dancing, OSU assistant director Adam Lambert conducted a contracted orchestra (no strings) in this piquant number.

At the conclusion of Williams’ brilliant performance, Shirley introduced the evening’s second featured young musician: Robby DeBry, a composition and jazz trombonist currently studying at SUU. To prepare the audience for DeBry’s daring composition Ashtoreth, Shirley crossed a genre boundary to speak of the visual art of the British Romantic painter J.M. W. Turner, whose works often bewildered contemporaries looking for easily recognizable images.

Shirley’s comparison offered an ideal perspective on DeBry’s work, inspired by Jeremiah’s condemnation of apostate Israel’s idolatrous worship of the Queen of Heaven, Ashtoreth. Plunging the audience into a cauldron of musical and spiritual turbulence, this work—like Turner’s paintings—left behind easily recognizable surfaces, as it plumbed dark and mysterious depths. Shifting from the morose and brooding to the volcanic and eruptive, from the phlegmatic to the kinetic, this work probed the dynamics of spiritual conflict in challenging ways. Like Turner’s visual art, DeBry’s musical art summoned auditors to intense and difficult contemplation. OSU director Xun Sun conducted this world premiere with impressive responsiveness to its variegated textures.

Changing the mood of the evening, Shirley announced as the next featured young musician, Aubrey Aikele, a junior at Moapa Valley High School, slated to perform the Piano Concerto No. 2, Larghetto calmato by Edward MacDowell. This work, Shirley indicated, would showcase the dazzling keyboard virtuosity of Aikele as soloist, stunningly fused with the collective harmonies of the orchestra as a whole.

The number fully lived up to the billing. After a muted and pensive opening rendered by the strings, the piano announced its arrival with a passage of pyrotechnic intensity, as coruscating arpeggios repeatedly culminated in thunderous chords. Again and again, Aikele’s frenetic but perfectly controlled energy softened into seductively pacific tranquility. And under the skilled baton of OSU assistant director Carylee Zwang, the orchestra seamlessly melded its musical threads into one vibrantly hued tapestry. As the radiant center of this tapestry, Aikele evinced a rare combination of primal power and artistic sophistication. She will delight many more audiences in the years ahead!

Following the works of the three young Halversen artists, and after intermission, Shirley introduced the final number of the evening-- the first, fourth, and fifth movements of the Symphony No. 5 by Mahler, to be played by the entire orchestra, under the direction of Xun Sun. This number, Shirley explained, has earned the reputation of being the Mount Everest of orchestral music.

But as the lead musical mountaineer, OSU director Xun Sun raised an undaunted baton, signaling the path upward, and the intrepid musicians under his direction fearlessly, and adeptly, made the ascent. As if signaling the first step of the climb, trumpeter Rich McMaster delivered a piercingly beautiful solo, thrilling every listener with its bright yet stately tones. Those stately tones announce the opening of the symphony’s first movement, Trauermarsch, dominated by somber measures, cadenced with the rhythms of a funeral march, majestic yet sweetly melancholy.

Just as poignant, though decidedly less funereal, the fourth movement—Adagietto—conveys a plangent sense of heart-felt but unfulfilled longing. Believed to constitute a kind of love song from the composer to his wife, this movement delivers a deep intensity of passion, laced with heart-melting sorrow. The OSU strings carried the enormous emotional burden of this movement with compelling tenderness.

In the last movement—Rondo Finale—an effervescent mood breaks out, as brilliant sunlight breaks through all of the earlier movements’ darker clouds. Spritely, even jocund, notes lift listeners into an ecstatic new perspective. In the sharp contrast with the opening death march, many listeners may well have seen reason for what Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan once said about hearing Mahler’s Fifth: “A great performance of the Fifth is a transforming experience. The fantastic finale almost forces you to hold your breath.” OSU did indeed deliver a great performance, one leaving many in the audience breathless during the overwhelming finale. But then, as any experienced mountaineer knows, no one breathes easily at the summit of Everest. And with hundreds of listeners on their backs, Sun and his orchestra did reach that sky-touching summit!

When they were finally able to breathe freely again, the hundreds who had gathered for this season-ending conference left the Heritage Center deeply grateful for the musical talent that makes OSU such a marvel. The musical talent in this exceptional regional orchestra clearly includes three marvelous conductors and scores of accomplished instrumentalists. On this particular night, the concert-goers very much appreciated the three primary sponsors who had made the concert this orchestra had just performed affordable: The Charles and Gloria Maxfield Parrish Foundation, the Dixie and Ann Leavitt Leavitt Foundation, and Ripple Effect. And all those concert-goers left for home dreaming not only of next season’s OSU concerts but also of all the many concerts that this night’s featured young stars will surely produce in the decades ahead as they again and again demonstrate their potential to ascend imposing musical heights--perhaps some even beyond Everest.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

"Capturing the Moment" Season Finale

Young Artists to Shine at the Orchestra of Southern Utah’s Roy L. Halversen Concert
by Tanisa Crosby

Celebrate the talents of youth soloists on April 11 with the Orchestra of Southern Utah and three promising soloists. Every other year, the Orchestra of Southern Utah invites youth to audition to participate in a concert that features their music talents and abilities. A concert started to honor a beloved Cedar City teacher has grown into a concert that is looked forward to. It gives young aspiring artists the opportunity to be featured with a full orchestra. This year, the Roy L. Halversen Young Artists Concert will take place on April 11, 7:30 p.m., Heritage Theater.

Aubrey Aikele, a Junior at Moapa Valley High School, will perform Piano Concerto No. 2, Larghetto Calmato by MacDowell directed by Carylee Zwang. Aikele is a two-time soloist with the Southwest Symphony (2016, 2019) and will also solo with the Henderson Nevada Symphony in 2020. She has been studying the piano since she was four and has received Superior Ratings at the SUPAF Festival and Clark County Solo & Ensemble Festival. She’s been named the Most Outstanding Pianist at Castle Rock Music Clinic and studies with Brandon Lee of St. George, UT while also maintaining a private piano studio and serving as a staff accompanist.

The Orchestra will then perform an original composition by Robby DeBry, a composition and jazz trombonist currently studying at Southern Utah University (SUU), entitled Ashtoreth directed by Xun Sun. DeBry has studied composition from Keith Bradshaw and Douglas Ipson while attending SUU and has composed and had several of his pieces performed by various ensembles, including a debut work for wind symphony, Nyx and Erebus (2018). Ashtoreth will be a premiere performance and will be his first work for Symphony Orchestra.

Aria Williams, a sophomore student from SUU, will perform Suite for Tuba by Don Haddad directed by Adam Lambert. Williams has performed in Honor Band and All-State band in Arizona and Nevada and currently participates in many ensembles at SUU including SUU Wind Symphony, Jazz Band, Brass Ensemble, as well as in OSU. She hopes to further her education in hopes of teaching music to future students.

Following the soloists, the Orchestra of Southern Utah will then perform Symphony No. 5 by Mahler directed by Xun Sun. They will perform the first, fourth, and fifth movements of the Symphony. This masterpiece was completed in 1902 following the composer’s near death experience and then his marriage. It was a two summer project in Austria and has extensive sections of elaborate counterpoint with contrasting themes.

The Orchestra of Southern Utah would like to extend an invitation to all to join us celebrating the talents of these young artists at the “Capture the Moment: Roy L. Halversen Young Artists Concert”. The concert will take place on April 11th at 7:30 pm and will take place at the Heritage Center Theatre (105 N 100 E, Cedar City, UT, located behind Lins). Tickets cost $12 for adults and $6 for students. Children 6 and older are welcome to attend with adult supervision. No babies as concerts are recorded. For more information contact OSU Manager Rebekah Hughes at (435)592-6051 or

Preview the music:

Poster design by Rollan Fell of the Print Shoppe

Monday, February 25, 2019

Magical Concert Photos

Thanks to everyone who braved icy roads to make the Feb. concert a success.

OSU with Children's Choir and Debra Carter as narrator for Peter Pan.

Harold Shirley introduces the music
Carylee Zwang acknowledges the soloists
End of Peter Pan
Carylee Zwang acknowledges the applause

Deborah Grimshaw acknowledged for Lord of the Ring violin solo

View from percussion section

String bass and percussion sections

SUU dancers for Swan Lake waltz

SUU teacher Michelle Ramos and student dancer Laura Choi during the Sleeping Beauty Waltz

Michelle Ramos dancing during Sleeping Beauty
Flowers for the dancers, SUU students and Michelle Ramos, teacher
Deborah Carter provided narration for Peter Pan

Melissa Leavitt with Xun Sun backstage

Conductors backstage:  Carylee Zwang and Xun Sun

Michelle Ramos, dancer, and Xun Sun, conductor, after the concert

Marlo Ihler and her daughter help with Peter and the Wolf promotion. Several OSU musicians are helping with the live orchestra for this March production.
SUU dancers for Swan Lake waltz, Brenna Evans and Zadie Faris 

Xun Sun congratulating Heather Wilhelm at the end of the concert.
The intrepid Heritage Center staff breaks down the set up for their next event