Friday, October 21, 2016

Fall OSU Photos 2016

Recitals, major concert, and more this fall.  Thank you to everyone involved with the Orchestra of Southern Utah as a musician, patron, or sponsor. Thanks also to the technical staff at the Heritage Center.  We're working on Beethoven and Vivaldi for the Nov. 10 concert, but here are a few photos from fall 2016 by Pam Gilbert and OSU musicians.

OSU Education Director Melissa Leavitt with OSU President Harold Shirley
October 13 Concert:

Hen Hao Fiddlers provided lobby music and played in the concert.

4th Grade VIP passes allow students to discover live orchestra music.
Cedar High Advanced Orchestra

Tom Herb directs SUU Jazz Band

Suzanne Tegland with Heritage Center Stage Manager Lisa Cox

Concert Patrons

Rehearsals for October Concert: 

Combined OSU and CHS Advanced Orchestra in rehearsal.

Catching up during break

Christina Carrigan conducting combined orchestras

Community Service performances are common for OSU musicians.  Here are just a couple of examples:

Westwind Trio at Artisans for Final Friday event

Brooke MacNaughtan and Nina Hansen performed prelude music for the Gerald Sherratt's Memorial Service.
 Recital Photos from Fall series:

Thanks again to everyone who participates in OSU: onstage, in the audience, backstage, and support staff.  It takes a team to keep the music live and we appreciate all of you.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Savoring American Harmonies

By Bryce Christensen

Hailed as “the quintessential American composer” by the BBC, Aaron Copland just had to appear on the program when the Orchestra of Southern Utah (OSU) opened their 2016-17 Legacy Season at Cedar City’s Heritage Center on the night of October 13th with a concert devoted to the “American Legacy.”  And there he was—featured as the composer of the evening’s culminating number, the foot-stomping favorite “Hoe Down” (from Copland’s Rodeo), performed by an extraordinary ensemble that combined the musicians of the OSU with those of the Cedar High School’s Advanced Orchestra, coming together under the baton of OSU Assistant Conductor Carylee Zwang.  But before their pulses quickened to irresistible rhythms of Copland’s celebratory paean to the American West, the listeners gathered in the audience thrilled to a wide range of other musical offerings, all reminding them of the nation’s musical heritage.

In extending a warm welcome to the audience, OSU President Harold Shirley reminded listeners of America’s remarkable accomplishment in breaking free from European tutelage in music, so creating our own indigenous musical identity.  The character of that American musical evening began to emerge in the evening’s first three numbers, performed by talented guests who would return to the stage for the evening’s last two numbers, including Copland’s masterpiece.  Members of Cedar High School’s Advanced Orchestra, these special musical visitors performed under the direction of Christina Carrigan, who had well primed her students for their moment in the limelight. 

Ironically, though, this youthful CHS group moved into the limelight with “Darkened Shadows,” an intense and moody number penned by Joshua Reznicow, a contemporary American composer with roots in Minneapolis-St. Paul.  Its opening passages taut with tension, this number opens onto reflective and pensive themes suggestive of Americans’ more sober and meditative moods. 
The Cedar High ensemble next turned to “She Will Hang the Night with Stars,” a liquid composition redolent with melancholy and rich with the pathos consequent to irrecoverable loss.  Inspired by a passage from De Profundis--a sorrowful life assessment that Oscar Wilde penned in his British prison cell--this music of soulful yearning compellingly establishes that an American composer can cut his own path to the kind of bittersweet pathos associated with the work of European masters such as Wagner or Rachmaninoff.  A native of Chicago, William Hofeldt—composer of this beautiful piece—clearly knows something of that boundary of the psyche where light dawns on dark despair.  And with interpretive dexterity remarkable for musicians so young, the CHS Orchestra transported the audience to that liminal region.   

As the third selection of the evening, the Cedar High Orchestra performed “Overture to the Wind” by the Missouri-based composer Kirt N. Mosier.  A many-textured composition, this Overture breathes at points with the gentle stirrings of a pleasant breeze—perfectly conveyed by a dialogue between solo violinist Hannah Klassen and solo violist Hannah Bradshaw--but then swells through the entire orchestra into the powerful gusts of a tremendous storm.  The CHS orchestra again demonstrated superb musicianship in conveying the varying moods of this piece, the two soloists meriting particular praise for their nuanced renditions.  As OSU President remarked in welcoming the CHS Orchestra to the concert, these young musicians represent the future of OSU.   

As the CHS Orchestra left the stage and the stage crew began preparing for another group of guest performers—namely Southern Utah University’s Jazz Band, yet a third group of guest artists--the Hen Hao Fiddlers—took to the aisles of the Heritage Center to make the break musically delightful.  Local favorites in recent years, these lively and spirited fiddlers take their name from a Chinese phrase meaning “very good,” having picked up that phrase while visiting China in 2011 as ambassadors for American music.  And no one in attendance would dispute the aptness of this group’s name, for they are indeed very good.   Recreating the atmosphere of a cowboy square dance on the frontier, these dyed-in-the-wool American musicians reminded the audience of how homespun music once sustained the spirits of America’s settlers on the frontier—and continues to delight their descendants.

American music in a more modern vein received attention as the Hen Hao Fiddlers yielded the spotlight to SUU’s Jazz Band—under the direction of Thomas Herb.  This group of jazz artists started with “In the Mood,” a brass-and-sax celebration made popular by the legendary Glenn Miller.  With its swinging, syncopated rhythms and it buoyant tone, this crowd-pleasure effected a bit of musical time travel, taking the audience back to the America of the Big Bands.  Completing this time-travel magic were the mellow saxophone solos of Ethan Patrick and Johnny Ruhr and the luminous trumpet solo by Kirk Bevan.

The title of the Jazz Band’s next selection-- “April in Paris”—pointed beyond the confines of the country being celebrated in this American-legacy concert.  But Vernon Duke’s catchy composition--first performed in 1932 in America’s own Big Apple as part of a Broadway revue—lives in the memory because of brilliant renditions by great American performers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Thelonious Monk, Tommy Dorsey, and Frank Sinatra.  In any case, a great many American luminaries—including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hart Crane, and Ezra Pound—have made France’s City of Lights the place where they made distinctively American  literature.   No doubt the shades of these departed musical and literary artists were listening in as SUU’s jazz musicians moved effortless from the silky smooth opening measures of this number into the more boisterous later passages, with Joe Palmer on trumpet and Carvel Allen spicing things up with their salty solos.

The final number performed by SUU’s Jazz Band, “Night in Tunisia”—like “April in Paris”—might refer to geography beyond the United States, but its jazz magic was born in the Forties in New York City (even if composer Dizzy Gillespie facetiously claimed he’d written it in Texas on the bottom of a garbage can).  From its pyrotechnic opening through its free-wheeling interplay between pert percussion and saucy brass, “Night” still conveys a street-savvy musical artist’s sense of unscripted creativity.  Austin Clark’s trumpet solo in this mamba-themed version of this number was nothing short of dazzling, with laudable secondary solos from Joe Palmer and Ethan Patrick. As the SUU Jazz Band left the stage for Intermission, listeners had to see that this group is a secret too well kept: professional in the quality of their music, this ensemble deserves a wider circle of listeners!

After the Intermission, the Orchestra of Southern Utah took the stage for the first time, opening their part of the program with a composer who just might compete with Copland for the label
 “quintessential American composer”—namely, John Philip Sousa.  Famous for declaring that he wanted to write marches that would “make a man with a wooden leg step out,” Sousa succeeded in his “Free Lance March” in kindling his listeners an acute desire to do some high stepping—or at least some vigorous toe-tapping.  Of course, some of this desire reflected the spirited way in which Zwang led the OSU through a rendition melding a martial sense of pride with boundless patriotic zeal.

The Italian Ennio Morricone--not an American--was responsible for the next number, “Gabriel’s Oboe,” an excerpt from the soundtrack from The Mission, a 1986 film about the courageous men who carried their faith from Europe to the New World.  And though the film is set in South America, the theme still connects with the spiritual devotion of many who settled the United States.  A poignant and tender evocation of the spiritual yearnings that sustained these missionaries through adversity, this number featured a masterful solo by Brad Gregory, who made his oboe an angelic voice of transcendent hope.

No missionary in the conventional sense, Duke Ellington was nonetheless impelled by his own brand of evangelism as he wrote, performed, and conducted the ragtime jazz he proudly called “American music.”  Something of Ellington’s infectious enthusiasm for that music breathed through OSU’s “Caravan.”  Zwang and the OSU musicians under her direction conveyed the restless, sinewy, and salutatory authenticity of Ellington’s musical Americanism. 

But Ellington owned no monopoly on ragtime Americanism.  In the evening’s penultimate selection, Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag,” listeners relished the genius of another great American ragtimer.  Meeting the challenge of this composition’s kinetic syncopation, OSU joined forces with CHS’s Orchestra—beneath a baton wielded by CHS’s Christina Carrigan-- to deliver a sparkling and effervescent rendition of this jazz classic.   Solos by trumpeters Rich McMaster and Laura Bird plus trombonist John Sutherland channeled Ellington’s ragtime genius.

And then, with Copland’s “Hoe Down,” when OSU’s Carylee Zwang again took the podium, the concert ended where the audience knew it had to—with the acclaimed “Dean of American composers,” the leg-slapping beat of his “Hoe Down” perfectly summing up the irrepressible dynamism that tells a listener: This is American music! 

Regulars at OSU concerts no doubt missed seeing that American-by-naturalization OSU director Xun Sun, whose musical passions have done much to enlarge Cedar City’s musical horizons in recent years.  But Zwang brought to the podium her own impressive musical abilities and clear commitment to maintaining high musical standards.  Called on to fill in while Sun is on sabbatical leave from the university, Zwang deserves special commendation for doing so with her own charisma and verve.  Also deserving of special commendation are the concert organizers who brought in three guest ensembles—Cedar High School’s Advanced Orchestra, the Hen Hao Fiddlers, and Southern Utah University’s Jazz Band—their presence reminding listeners that American music is all about bringing diverse groups together in shared musical joy!  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

American Legacy Opens OSU Season

(poster design by Rollan Fell)

American Legacy Concert Features Two Orchestras and SUU Jazz Band
By Kirstin Beauchamp-Butt

The Orchestra of Southern Utah’s 2016-2017 concert season Musical Legacy opens on Thursday, October 13 with American Legacy, conducted by Carylee Zwang. The concert begins at 7:30 pm in the Heritage Theater and features collaborations with both Cedar High School Symphonic Orchestra and the Southern Utah University Jazz Band.  Heritage Theater is at 105 N. 100 East in Cedar City.
American music has many influences and has become the grounds for an eclectic collection of genres. OSU presents a snapshot of the variety of styles from Copland to cinema, to jazz and back to a march.

With performances on their own, CHS Symphonic Orchestra and the SUU Jazz Ensemble demonstrate the versatility within great music and different ensembles. Christina Carrigan directs the CHS Symphonic Orchestra. The group includes advanced high school students who must audition to participate in the orchestra. Ms. Carrigan's orchestras consistently earn high ratings at festivals - last school year both the CMS Advanced Orchestra and the CHS Orchestra qualified for state and earned superior ratings from all judges at the state level. They are playing three pieces by living American composers: Darkened Shadows by Joshua Reznicow, She Will Hang the Night With Stars by William Hofeldt, and Overture to the Wind by Kirt N. Mosier.

Under the direction of Dr. Thomas Herb, the SUU Jazz Ensemble plays In the Mood by Joe Garland, April in Paris by Vernon Duke, and Night in Tunisia by Dizzy Gillespie. Dr. Herb is a published instrumental music education specialist with over two decades of experience and a skilled saxophonist.

The Orchestra of Southern Utah will complete the concert with the famous jazz piece Caravan, by Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol, which is an American classic. The piece was first recorded in 1936 and incorporates Latin influences drawn from Tizol’s Puerto Rican background. Ellington is widely praised as one of the most influential jazz composers of all time and was a successful bandleader for over 50 years.
The beautiful Gabriel’s Oboe by Ennio Morricone features Brad Gregory as soloist. Brad Gregory is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, and moved to Cedar City in July 2014 to accept a faculty position in the Department of Psychology at Southern Utah University. Going on his third year with OSU, Brad currently holds the Principal Oboe position with the OSU and has previously performed with the Raleigh Symphony and Raleigh Civic Symphony on oboe and English horn.  He also held principal positions in the Triangle Wind Ensemble, Triangle Wind Quintet, and Triangle Wind Octet while living in Raleigh.  Also a flutist, Brad is a founding member of the West Winds, a flute trio that performs throughout the area. The piece was composed as the main theme for the 1986 film The Mission, for which Morricone won a Golden Globe for Best Original Score.

Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin combines the OSU and Cedar High School Orchestra. The piece was copyrighted in 1899 and has influenced many ragtime compositions in the century since it was written. It is regarded as Joplin’s most successful work. Christina Carrigan directs this iconic piece.  She is the Cedar High Orchestra Director.

Sousa’s Free Lance March, also referred to as On to Victory, is one of John Philip Sousa’s most boisterous marches. Originally written as the main theme of his operetta “The Free Lance,” it has since become a popular standalone march that perfectly encapsulates the signature style and sound of Sousa.

The OSU will be joined by Cedar High School Orchestra to perform Aaron Copland’s famous Hoe Down. Written as the final movement of Copland’s Rodeo Ballet (which is often considered one of the first truly American ballets), it is fast, exciting, and a challenging showcase of any orchestra’s skill. Universally well-loved, it has been featured in many orchestras, film scores, and even the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Tickets are available at the Cedar City Heritage Theater Box Office or by calling 435-865-2882 or online at Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for students, and $30 for groups up to 6. Because evening concerts are recorded, it is requested that babies and children under the age of six not attend. Children over the age of six are welcome at all OSU concerts with adult supervision.
For more information, please visit, call the Orchestra of Southern Utah at (435) 233-8213, or

For Calendars:

Oct. 13- American Legacy Concert, 7:30 p.m. Heritage Center, 7:30 p.m., Cedar City.  $10 adults, $5 students, groups of six $30.  Over age six welcome with adult supervision.  No babies please as concert is recorded. More info:, call the Orchestra of Southern Utah at (435) 233-8213, or email
CHS Orchestra Director Christina Carrigan

SUU Jazz Band Director Thomas Herb

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Opening Gala Honors June Thorley

Opening Gala Introduces An Annual Award

Photos by Karl Hugh, Sept. 27, 2016 OSU Gala to celebrate the Orchestra of Southern Utah and recognize a special musician who was a founding board member and faithful musician for over 70 years.

Harold Shirley, OSU President gives history of OSU.

Sara Penny, OSU Assistant, gives vision for OSU's future and appreciation to June Thorley's legacy.

OSU Executive Director Pete Akins recalls impact of OSU on his life and inspiration of June Thorley.
Dennis Loeffel shares his perspective.

June Thorley with some of her family.

Presentation of Thorley Musical Legacy Award.

Thanks to June Thorley for her years of musical service.  OSU Manager Emily Hepworth's statement: "When I first came to the orchestra, I remember seeing June. I knew then that I wanted to be like her, always performing and playing my instrument. Over the past ten years, she has continued to inspire me and other musicians. This is why I chose a tree as a center theme. While branches spread out above, the roots do the same below. A musical legacy does the same. The passion, both seen and hidden, is spread. The legacy award is for those who plant roots far and wide." 

Additional coverage of event:

Article about June Thorley's impact on area music:

Sampling of reactions via facebook:
Camille Woolsey Love Mrs. Thorley.....I had her as my Orchestra Teacher from 3rd Grade till I graduated 12th Grade.....and she even played at my wedding almost 24 years ago with a quartet.....I absolutely owe this lady so much.
Ann Frehner Well deserved. June has touched so many lives over the years, including some of my children and grandchildren. Thank you June
Lana Topham Roberts She is truly an icon, worthy of any award that can possibly be given. If you were a student of hers, consider yourself privileged. If you attend any kind of performance that she was a part of, consider yourself fortunate. I sum her life up in one word...EPIC! 
C. Tad Brinkerhoff She changed the lives of thousands. The legacy will never end. Thanks Mrs Thorley for your dedication.