Monday, December 19, 2011

Messiah Selections on YouTube

The Messiah YouTubes are up thanks to Laurel Dodgion.  Recordings by Steve Swift and his team.

Here are the links:

Rejoice Greatly:

Comfort Ye:

He Was Despised:

For CDs ($15) or DVDs ($25) send check to
P.O. Box 312
Cedar City, UT  84721

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and End of Year Donations


Orchestra of Southern Utah

P.O Box 312, Cedar City, UT   84721-0312

Dec. 19, 2011
Dear Friends,
Greetings!  We thank you for supporting the music we love to play.  We ask you to give an end-of-the-year gift to the Orchestra of Southern Utah because your participation is vital to our continued success.
So far this season we have celebrated musical theater with over 300 musicians on stage in conjunction with the Chorale and featuring high school groups from Parowan, Canyon View, and Cedar High.  In November we were thrilled to present the much-requested Pines of Rome and to host Chinese composer Zhou Hong and his original work.  Our 71st Cedar City Messiah concerts on had full houses.  Messiah musicians and patrons donated 367 pounds of canned food to Iron County Care and Share.  After the holidays we are excited about our upcoming Children’s Jubilee with outreach assemblies reaching 3,500 students, a performance with featured guest soloist Dr. Kirill Gliadkovsky, and our successful youth concerto series in the spring.
Please remember, that your gifts make it all possible.  The Orchestra of Southern Utah is a non-profit organization that thrives due to outstanding community and individual supporters.  Please know that we appreciate your assistance and any suggestions you have to make OSU the best it can be.
Ticket sales have been steady, but for orchestras like ours, donations are far more important and truly make it possible to maintain the quality that our community expects from arts groups.  Your gifts are, quite literally, our life blood.  December is a particularly good time to give because your charitable contribution is fully tax deductible if received by Dec. 31.  Also, donations can be made in the name of a friend or family member as a unique and meaningful gift option for holiday giving.  If you prefer to pay by credit card, we accept all major credit cards online on our website on the “donor” tab.  From all of the staff and musicians, thank you for your holiday generosity.
Pete Akins
OSU President

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Name (please print)_______________________________________________________
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Mail to: Orchestra of Southern Utah, P.O. Box 312, Cedar City, UT  84721-0312

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Timeless Christmas Celebration

By Bryce Christensen
“The earth has grown old with its burden of care,” wrote the 19th-century hymnist Phillips Brooks. “But at Christmas it always is young, / The heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair /And its soul full of music breaks the air, /When the song of angels is sung.”  Those who gathered at the Heritage Center on the nights of December 11th and 12th for the Orchestra of Southern Utah’s annual performance of Handel’s Messiah experienced the miracle of which Brooks wrote, as the angelic songs of this Christmas classic swept away the years, renewing in heart and spirit all those in attendance.
It was, of course, entirely appropriate that OSU President Akins opened the evening by identifying this year’s performance as the 71st in a series going back to the year before Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into World War II.  Appropriate, too, was the recognition of OSU violinist June Thorley as one of the participants (then just a child) in the 1940 inaugural of what has become one of Cedar City’s most beloved holiday traditions.  But from the stirring first notes of the Overture to the regal harmonies of the final “Worthy is the Lamb that Was Slain,” the decades melted away.  The Christmas “soul full of music break[ing] the air” transported the audience into a realm beyond time, beyond 1940, beyond 1743, when the oratorio’s brilliant “Hallelujah!” chorus brought George II to his feet in London, and even beyond the 1742 premiere in Dublin, where one reviewer wrote ecstatically, “Words are wanting to express the exquisite delight [the oratorio] afforded to the admiring and crowded Audience.”  As it resounded with the sacred meanings of ancient scripture, the oratorio slipped beyond the bounds of human years and centuries, drawing enraptured listeners into the divinely timeless. 
Once again delighting Cedar City listeners--who have come to cherish his exceptional gifts--OSU director Xun Sun led the talented instrumentalists under his baton with great passion, drawing from them a truly marvelous outpouring of celebratory music.  The polished skills of these instrumentalists were memorably evident in the strains of the opening Overture and the later Pastoral Symphony halfway through the oratorio.  But the thrill for listeners greatly intensified when the OSU instrumentalists were joined by the gifted chorus of vocalists, recruited and trained by choral director Adrianne J. Tawa. 
This thrill penetrated listeners’ hearts with particular power as more than 150 voices joined in the signature choruses of this timeless masterpiece.  Though the inevitable abridgement of Handel’s very long original work meant that listeners had to rely on their memory of past performances of some choruses, (such as “Since by Man Came Death”), the evening’s performance included truly breathtaking renditions of “And the Glory of the Lord,” “O Thou That Tellest,” “For Unto Us a Child is Born,” “Glory to God,” “Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates,” and the absolutely essential “Hallelujah!” and “Worthy is the Lamb That Was Slain.”  Though all of these choruses lifted listeners into a heavenly joy, “For Unto Us a Child is Born” merits particular praise for its stunning fusion of exultant voices, soaring strings, luminous brass, and thunderous timpani.  What was especially impressive in this number—as in the other choruses—was the way in which the scores of singers under Tawa’s direction retained in their loudest notes the sublimity of worship.
The sublimity permeating the choruses also suffused the fifteen solos, performed by nine soloists.  Performing seven of the solos, alto Elise Read demonstrated remarkable versatility in rendering with perfect intonation and feeling numbers as different as the pleading “Comfort Ye My People,” the monitory “Thus Saith the Lord,” and the evocative “Behold, I Tell You a Mystery.”  Likewise delivering sublime renditions of Handel’s score was soprano Jackie Jackson, whose “Every Valley Shall be Exalted” captured the cadence of prophetic rapture, and alto Mary Fox, whose “O Thou That Tellest” set the triumphant tone for the irresistible chorus that joined her.  Soprano Geneil Perkins handled the difficult “Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion” with poise and seemingly effortless grace, and alto Taliah Johnson rendered “He Was Despised” with poignantly plaintive pathos.   Soprano Janese Shaw brought to her “I Know that My Redeemer Liveth” a piercing fervor, and Kim Padilla carried her “If God Be For Us” to a pitch of devout jubilation. 
As the only two male soloists for the evening, tenor Alex Byers delivered the probing interrogatives of “But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming?” with tones of insistent majesty, while bass Gregg Watts sounded the depths with moving profundity in a vocal rendition of “The Trumpet Shall Sound” that perfectly complemented Doug Harris’s radiant trumpet solo in the same number.
In the relative paucity of male soloists and in the decided predominance of female voices in the chorus as a whole, listeners could see something of the challenge Tawa faces in recruiting male voices for this annual performance.   Her resourceful flexibility in dealing with this challenge is evident not only in her surprisingly effective use of a female voice to sing a number typically assigned to a bass soloist (“Thus Saith the Lord”) but also in her even more surprising success in maintaining balance in the superb choruses.  Though Tawa would no doubt be the first to acknowledge that she could use more male singers, she deserves special recognition for so artfully directing the talented ensemble of singers available to her. 
The accomplishment of Tawa, of Sun, of the soloists, of the choir as a whole, and of the orchestra as a whole indeed richly merited the sustained standing ovations at the close of the two nights’ performances, ovations from listeners persuaded that in this year’s Messiah they had heard a “song of angels” that expunged all world-weariness and so renewed the Christmas marvel that makes the world celestially new again.

Monday, December 12, 2011

  • Patron comments we've received on last night's performance:

    I attended last night's performance and commend you and the entire group for a most moving performance. Last night the strings were synchronized, in tune, and very effective. This can only be attributed to your (Xun's) leadership and guidance. Well done!

    Of the soloists, I particularly enjoyed alto Taliah Johnson. Although I have listened to No 23 for years, last night was the first time that I realized the string counterpoint as weeping. The recitative soloist Elise Read was also effective. I found that the semi-chorus on the side of the theatre for No 33 and No 44 was an excellent concept and gave a stereo effect.

    Best regards (and again, congratulations on an excellent performance.
  • More comments on Sunday's performance:

    Once again the OSU outdid itself with an inspiring and beautiful rendition of the Messiah. I think the chorus was the best I've heard. Of course the orchestra is always good. I thought Xun was going to jump in the air at times. I don't think I ever remember seeing such a well dressed group of singers.

    I hope it goes well tonight and that the audience should not clap between numbers. I don't think people noticed it in their programs. I loved what he said about the 71st performance and when June Thorley started playing with the orchestra - quite a history.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Official announcements today for Challenge America Grants:

Orchestra of Southern Utah 
Cedar City, UT
To support Capturing the Caribbean, a main stage performance, youth concert, and series of assemblies in area elementary schools for Feb. 2013.

(The only Utah orchestra receiving a Challenge America NEA grant this year.  Thanks to Bridget Lee for grant writing and all the people involved in helping the Orchestra.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fiddling Fun in the Fall

Southern Utah fiddle group Peter Street flash mobbed the Southern Utah University Bread and Soup Nite on November 7, 2011.  Thanks to the musicians, SUU, and Laurel Dodgion for heading up filming and production.  Lindsay Szczesny leads off the festivities with Amanda Clark; Kim and Caroline Simmerman; Catherine, Christiania and Kirsten Hofeling; Jane, Mary and Ruth Hailstone; Jenni Rock, and Carol Fife.

 This group performed in our fall recital series and performs for other community events.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

       Great Friday for the orchestra.  Bridget received notification that we will be getting an NEA grant for Feb. 2013 for our "Capturing the Caribbean" pirate adventure through music with steel drums.  Too much fun.
      The League of American Orchestras invited us to send a representative to their Dallas convention to share our use of hands-on science as a complement to the music in our family Jubilees.
      We're always happy to get national recognition for our efforts.  Thanks to all involved.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fall in Southern Utah with Steve Downs

Thanks to Steve Downs and his recital performance for the music and to all the photographers who helped with this project, as well as Laurel Dodgion for producing the video.

Thursday, December 1, 2011
The "Ritual"  by Chinese composer Zhou Hong is now online.  Thanks to Steve Swift and his team for the recording.