Monday, November 28, 2011

Handel’s Messiah: the Tradition of Music Continues

The Orchestra of Southern Utah and Southern Utah Chorale performs their 71th concert of Handel’s Messiah Concert on Sunday, December 11th and Monday, December 12th at 7:30 pm in the Heritage Center (105 North 100 East) in Cedar City.  This concert is presented FREE to the public thanks to the generous sponsorships of State Bank of Southern Utah and the Leavitt Group. 

This year the Orchestra is hosting a food drive during the Messiah Concerts.  All food will be donated to the Iron County Care & Share.  “It’s tragic that in a society with such abundance our benevolence-oriented organizations struggle,” commented OSU President Pete Akins.  “This year we have an opportunity to work together in cooperation with Care & Share.  Will you help us stock their shelves?”   Akins and the Orchestra suggest audience members donate one can of food per person to help our neighbors during this festival season.

The Orchestra is also hosting a raffle this year.  The prize package is valued at over $150 and includes a massage gift certificate, two sets of tickets for the remainder of the OSU season, The Planets Collector’s Edition DVD, a “Music Inspired by William Shakespeare” Concert CD, a Baby Ears CD, a Matrix MR-500 Quartz Metronome, and other prizes.  Raffle tickets are $5 each.

The Messiah Concert is conducted by OSU Conductor and Music Director Xun Sun.  The Chorale is under the direction of Adrianne J. Tawa.  Soloists include Elise Reed, Jackie Jackson, Alex Byers, Mary Fox, Taliah Johnson, Janise Shaw, Greg Watts, Geneil Perkins, and Kim Padilla.  

Due to the length of the Messiah, only portions of the oratorio to be performed.  This year’s pieces include the Overture, “O thou that tallest good tidings,” “For unto us,” “Glory to God,” Lift up your heads,” “Hallelujah,” and “Worthy is the Lamb.”

George Frideric Handel composed the Messiah in 1741, completing the masterpiece in an astonishing 24 days, drawing inspiration from a libretto by Charles Jennings as well as Isaiah and Job in the Old Testament and Luke, Matthew, John, First Corinthians, and Revelation in the New Testament.  The well-known and ever popular “Hallelujah” chorus, however, is taken from Revelation. 

The now famous oratorio was first performed for Easter in 1742.  It was not performed in the winter until after Handel’s death in 1759.  Since then, Messiah has become an integral part of the holiday season all over the world. It has been performed literally countless times in December, though portions of the work are sometimes performed at Easter.

The Messiah Concert is performed Sunday, December 11th and Monday, December 12th. Seating is on a first come, first choose basis. Arrive early for best seating.  Doors open at 6:45 pm.  No tickets are needed as concert is free.  OSU suggests concert goers bring one can of food per person for the Iron County Care and Share.

Lobby music starts at 6:45 with the Southern Utah String Quintet on Sunday evening and the Accidental 5 Brass Quintet on Monday evening.

OSU welcomes all children over the age of six with adult supervision.  OSU requests that babies and children less than six years old not attend as the concerts are recorded.

For more information, please visit or call Sara Penny at (435) 586-2286.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Getting in the Mood for our 71st Cedar City "Messiah" Performance

Thanks to Diane Strachan for finding this:

This video from the small Yupiq Eskimo Village of Quinhagak, Alaska,
was a school computer project intended for the other Yupiq villages in the
area. Much to the villagers' shock, over a half million people have viewed

For your turn to view, Click: HERE

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Review of Nov. 2011 concert

Tones of 21st-Cenutry Hope
By Bryce Christensen
Commenting on his Thus Sprach Zarathustra, composed at the tail end of the 19th century, the young Richard Strauss declared it a work of "symphonic optimism . . . dedicated to the 20th century."  But as the delighted audience who gathered at the Heritage Center on November 17th can attest, the symphonic optimism of this luminous work still glows 11 years into the 21st century.  As the opening number of the Orchestra of Southern Utah’s “World Journey” concert, Strauss’s brilliant number set a tone of irrepressible hopefulness for an exuberant concert. 
From the first thrumming throbs of Thus Sprach Zarathustra , the Orchestra of Southern Utah gave listeners every reason for musical optimism.  And that optimism intensified as radiant trumpet notes pierced the low vibrato of the strings, hailing the first beams of the Sunrise that Strauss celebrated in this opening movement of his famous composition.  And though this was the only movement of the Strauss work that OSU performed for this concert, it served perfectly to set the mood for the World Journey that the ensemble took as its concert theme.
Having opened with the first morning rays of light falling on Stauss’s Germany, the orchestra took its World Journey south to Rome, there to savor the harmonies of Respighi’s Pines of Rome.   A marvelously textured work, Pines transported the audience to the groves of Italy’s greatest city, allowing listeners first to feel the sprightly breezes that sway pine boughs in the city’s Villa Borghese gardens, then to ponder the deep solemnities of a somber Roman catacomb, only to move on to the exhilarating heights of the Janiculum.  Opening panoramic views from these heights, a series of gifted soloists—piano, clarinet, trumpet, oboe, and viola—allowed the audience to soar across time and space as they contemplated the grandeur of the imperial center of antiquity from a range of tonal perspectives.  Though all of the solos rewarded attentive listening, moving seamlessly from passages of sparkling scintillation to passages of sweet languor, the trumpet solo deserves particular mention for its surprisingly poignant and reflective tenor, a tenor that carried the audience well beyond the range usually associated with an instrument often regarded as insistently loud and martial.  To be sure, martial notes did fill the concert hall when the orchestra segued into the final movement of Pines, a movement resounding with the cadence of Roman legionnaires entering the city in triumph.  As the timpani marked out the firm stamp of the soldiers’ march, the entire orchestra—strings, winds, and brass—joined in the victorious final parade, carrying the audience with them in their irresistible progress down the Appian Way.
Leading the orchestra in its masterful performance of the evening’s opening numbers, conductor Xun Sun returned to the podium after an extended leave of absence, inspiring musicians and listeners alike with his interpretive passion.  Sun’s deep engagement with the music  were much in evidence this night, an engagement that was amplified by Sun’s inclusion of guest musicians in the opening two selections of more than two dozen guest musicians from Southern Utah University’s Symphony Orchestra.  Not only did the presence of these guest musicians deliver the immediate benefit of a marvelously  full orchestral sound, but that presence promised the very real possibility of some of these talented young musicians becoming long-term members of OSU in the years ahead.
Though the guest musicians left the stage at intermission, Sun and the OSU still commanded ample musical resources for carrying on their World Journey after the interval.  Indeed, with Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony (Symphony #41 in C major), the OSU converted their World Journey into a galactic Worlds journey, daring to leave behind the terrestrial orb to visit a far-distant planet dominating the earth’s night sky on the very night that OSU performed this number.  Praised by Sir George Grove as “the greatest orchestral work of the world which preceded the French Revolution,” this symphony does radiate a heavenly 18th-century grace.  Opening with a movement that counterpoises measures of celestial delicacy with measures taut with frenetic striving, the symphony then transitioned into a second movement pulsing with the energy of the sarabande’s dance rhythms.  Omitting the symphony’s third movement, the orchestra concluded with the final movement’s eruption of musical joy—manifest in the fanfare of brass playing off the sonorous energies of the strings and winds.
 OSU may have returned to the home planet for the final number, but they returned—in keeping with the World Journey theme—very far from home, landing in China for the stunning concluding number, “Ritual ShenNong,” truly a tour de force.   As an impressive indication of Xun Sun’s musical connections in his homeland, the composer of this number—Zhou Hong—was in attendance for the performance of his composition, coming to the stage to be recognized by appreciative OSU officers and to be named an Honorary Citizen of Cedar City by Mayor Joe Burgess.  Zhou Hong in turn presented his hosts with a gift of beautiful Chinese china.  But his real gift to all in attendance was his music, music so memorably beautiful that it utterly mesmerized listeners.  The powerful percussive cannonade of timpani  in the opening of this number seemed to break open the very well-springs of harmonic energy,  setting free  a majestic  river of orchestral power.  That power swelled into a magnificent torrent, probing, ever-probing, the banks through which it flowed.  The power of that torrent grew even greater when the instrumentalists of the orchestra were joined by the vocalists of the Southern Utah Chorale.  Though few in the audience could understand the Mandarin words they sang, all could feel their pleading, even prayerful, intensity, particularly when soloist Wayne Reynolds distilled that intensity into one compelling and stirring voice. 
As the last note of “Ritual ShenNong” died away, Sun turned on his podium to again recognize the composer, Zhou Hong, seated in an audience that immediately rose to its feel in grateful applause for his music—and for the entire evening’s music.  For this was a night that, from beginning to end, gave appreciative Cedar City listeners reason to hope for a 21st century laden with exquisite orchestral music. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

World Journey tomorrow!

Please join us for an unforgettable performance tomorrow night at 7:30 in the Heritage Center.