Saturday, December 22, 2012

Messiah 2012 Pics and Videos

Here are two Youtube clips of the 2012 Messiah concert:

And here are some casual photos of the orchestra and chorale together during the dress rehearsal:

Very special thanks to everyone who supported and participated in this year's Messiah!


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Merry Christmas from OSU

Orchestra of Southern Utah

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




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.         

We hope that you have been enjoying our exciting 2012-13 season.  It has been thrilling to bring to our community some of the classics from the “Big B” composers.  In September we celebrated Bach and Bruckner in cooperation with the Southern Utah Chorale and in November we highlighted works by Brahms and Beethoven.  We were delighted to feature guest violinist Paul Abegg and are pleased that such wonderful musicians perform with OSU.           

This year we have been honored to receive the competitive National Endowment for the Arts “Challenge America” award, one of only two awarded in Utah.  This prestigious recognition has made it possible for OSU to host the Florida-based steel drum band Caribbean Sound for an evening performance on February 21st and for the Children’s Jubilee on February 23rd. We are also providing three school assemblies.

As you are aware this has been a difficult year for arts groups.  There are more groups and yet less funding.  Below summarizes our  challenge:

Last Season
This Season
RAP Fund
Utah Arts Council


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.  All donations are tax-deductible and December charitable contributions enable OSU to finish the remaining half of the season on solid footing.  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 or debit card, we accept all major cards online on our website on the “donor” tab. 

         From all of the staff and musicians of OSU, thank you for your holiday generosity and for supporting great music in Southern Utah.

Harold Shirley, OSU President

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[1] Check enclosed payable to OSU

Name (please print)_______________________________________________________

Address ______________________________________________ City _______________________ State___________ Zip _________________________

Phone_____________________ Email ___________________________________________________________

The name in concert programs (please print)_______________________________________________________


Mail to: Orchestra of Southern Utah, P.O. Box 312, Cedar City, UT  84721-0312

Friday, December 14, 2012

Another Messiah 2012 Review

Christmas highlights the Iron County art scene
On Monday, I engaged in one of my favorite holiday tradi­tions: seeing a live perfor­mance of Handel’s “Messiah.” No matter where I find myself around December, I seek out a performance and soak it up. In Cedar City it’s easy, because of the Orchestra of Southern Utah and the Southern Utah Chorale.

This year’s performance of “Messiah,” directed by Xun Sun and Kevin Baker, was phe­nomenal.
At its worst, it provid­ed a perfectly serviceable ren­dition of one of the most-recog­nizable pieces of music of all time. At its best, it transcended what anyone could expect from a semi-professional gathering of singers and musicians.

They are an interesting group of people to watch per­form. Some look like they are pushing past their eighth dec­ade of life, while others haven’t
yet reached their second. Many of them are recognizable as people who populate the con­stant scenery of the area.
These are people you see at school, at government meet­ings, in the store or on the street.

Normal conversation with these people wouldn’t suggest they are part of something as magical and interesting as what happened at Monday’s performance. It’s like discover­ing the guy bagging your gro­ceries
is actually a wizard from Hogwarts. For me, the highlight of the evening came when soloist Taliah Byers sang the “Number 23” section — where Isaiah 53:3 is quoted: “He was despised and rejected of men: a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”

I’ve seen dozens of soloists sing this portion. This is the first time I felt the singer was
telling me a story rather than reciting a portion of the Bible. Byers not only sang the words, she looked as if she were telling the audience the concept that Jesus suffered for the first time and it broke her heart. Her rendition haunts me even as I write about it.
Of course the quality of Monday’s performance wasn’t surprising. I’ve often said the audiences in Southern Utah are quick to give standing ovations — but that’s because they’re accustomed to seeing a level of quality in the artistic offerings of the area that all but demand one.

It’s something to keep in mind this holiday season when every performance group is eager to share their talents with the general population.

I’ve talked with a number of people who like to categorize Iron County into separate sections, like a TV dinner. There is the agricultural community, the industrial community, the tourism community, the educational community and the art community, all competing for tax dollars and attention.

This isn’t the reality of the situation. Iron County is unique as it doesn’t have the one defining industry that other similarly sized areas have. After the mine closed, I think the area was scared away from that sort of social structure, creating what we now have.

It’s working because there are enough people willing to keep the separate groups that define the area in a universally beneficial ecosystem of sorts. It keeps the area viable when similar communities are following. It’s a tricky thing to keep balanced, though, and will fall apart if we stop supporting each other.

Take the opportunity this holiday season to support the local art scene. See a concert, buy paintings as gift or donate to a local group. It’s part of who we are.

by Josh Huntsman

High Country Beat
(Daily News 12-14-12 Front Page)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Messiah Review 2012

Seven Decades Old, Yet Ever New

By Bryce Christensen

“Christmas,” in the view of Protestant pastor David De Witt, “is all about tradition.”  “No other time of the year,” De Witt explains, “seems so rich and complete with a special series of traditions.”  For music-lovers in Cedar City, no Christmas tradition counts for more than the annual holiday production of Handel’s Messiah.  That tradition was once again renewed at the Heritage Center on the nights of December 9th and 10th as the Orchestra of Southern Utah and the Southern Utah Chorale combined their talents to inspire capacity audiences with this seasonal masterpiece.  As Orchestra of Southern Utah President Harold Shirley remarked in introducing Cedar City’s 72nd production of this sublime work, the Messiah tells the sacred and timeless Christmas story in a way that will “never grow old.”

From the majestic opening strains of the “Overture” that began the work to the magisterial choral Amens that concluded it, the years—even the decades—melted away, and the impressive brilliance of this year’s superb production of the Messiah echoed every excellence attained in previous productions. 

Among the nine soloists, two—bass Larry Johnson and soprano Jan Pressgrove—were mature and seasoned vocalists whose strong performances reflected many years of musical devotion.  Johnson rendered “Comfort Ye My People” in movingly plaintive tones, and delivered “Every Valley Shall Be Exalted” in notes tremulous with hope.  Pressgrove sang “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” as a transcendent testimony, beautifully radiant with conviction. 

The other seven soloists—sopranos Shaye Leavitt, Melissa Leavitt, and Christina Meikle; altos Annie Powell,  Laurice Williamson, and Taliah Byers; and bass Alex Byers—performed with poise and self-possession surprising in rising  young singers. 

Leavitt soared to celestial heavens in “There Were Shepherds Abiding in the Field” and “An Angel Said Unto them,” only to then transport listeners with “And Suddenly  There Was With the Angelic” in what truly seemed an angelic voice.

In “Come Unto Me,” entranced listeners were enthralled by Melissa Leavitt’s poignant pleading, the pleading of a divine voice directed to mortal ears. 

In Meikle’s performance of “If God Be For Us” (a wonderful piece outside of the standard repertoire for an abbreviated version of Handel’s meisterwerk), listeners marveled at the luminous flow of divine solace.

Powell’s “Behold! A Virgin Shall Conceive” gave the audience a distillation of sublime wonder, and her “O Thou That Tellest” offered a stirring affirmation.

With “The Shall the Eyes of the Blind Be Opened,” Williamson opened miraculous vistas with notes of liquid grace, a remarkable grace she sustained as she segued to the pastoral comfort of “He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd.” 

Taliah Byers’ “”He Was Despised” brimmed with a deeply moving pathos, a pathos answered by Alex Byers in the profound marvelings of “Behold, I Tell You a Mystery” and in the forceful assurance of “The Trumpet Shall Sound.”  Etching “The Trumpet Shall Sound” even more deeply in the memory was Pete Atkins’ penetrating trumpet solo in this number.

Of course, Atkins was far from the only instrumentalist whose talents enriched this year’s Messiah performance.  The entire orchestra sustained a very high level of musicianship throughout the concert.  This musicianship was notably evident in the two numbers—the opening “Overture” and the “Pastoral Symphony”--performed by the orchestra without the choir. But what listener did not especially appreciate the irresistible instrumental contribution to the thrilling crescendos of the chorus numbers, including especially “And the Glory of the Lord,” “For Unto Us a Child Is Born, and “Hallelujah!”? 

Deserving note was not only the manifest skill of the orchestra instrumentalists but also the unmistakable feeling.  This was a performance by musicians who cared about the music they played.  And in their emotional investment, listeners detected the most fundamental and important of the linkages between this year’s Messiah performers and their predecessors in a vital musical tradition.

The emotion evident in this year’s production of the Messiah radiated out from director and conductor Xun Sun.  Always spirited and engaged in the music he conducts, Sun appeared singularly impassioned in leading this performance.  And his passion was contagious.  Though deserving of the attention he received at the performance for having recently completed his doctorate at Columbia University, Sun—Dr. Sun—conveyed the pulse of this marvelous Christmas composition with an intensity that will never come out of merely academic study.

Though less visible during the concert than Sun, chorale director Kevin Baker likewise deserves praise for his role as the leader of the chorale for this year’s Messiah.  In his first year in this role, Baker somehow tapped into all of the resources of this much-cherished regional tradition.  Like the orchestra instrumentalists under Sun’s baton, the chorale singers under Baker’s direction fused technical mastery with from-the-heart emotion.  Whether in the exultant passages of “Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates,” the strikingly kinetic measures of “Since By Man Came Death,” or the triumphantly joyous climax of “”Hallelujah!” the choir sang with skill informed by fervor. 

As delighted listeners left the Heritage Center Sunday and Monday nights, they did so newly grateful for a Christmas tradition that connects them with a splendid past and points the way to a promising future in which the notes of Handel’s masterpiece will enrich Christmases for years and years to come. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Messiah Daily News Article

(Thanks to Cathy Wentz and Asher Swan for the newspaper coverage in the Daily News. Only about 20 Sunday tickets left. Monday tickets still available)

Christmas tradition

Production of ‘Messiah’ ready

By Cathy Wentz

The Or­chestra of Southern Utah and Southern Utah Chorale are busy putting final touches on their 72nd production of “Messiah,” Handel’s Christ­mas classic.

Performances will be Sun­day and Monday at the Heri­tage Theater, 105 N. 100 East. Cedar City resident June Thorley, a violinist for OSU, said she has performed “Messiah” with the orchestra since she was 14 and con­tinues to play. She also said she taught orchestra music in schools throughout the Iron County School District for 37 years.

Thorley said she con­tinues to perform “Messiah” with OSU because she loves it and enjoys working with the other people involved.

“It’s a project we love do­ing together,” she said.

Kevin Baker, in his second year as director of choral ac­tivities at Southern Utah Uni­versity, said he is directing the chorale this year because director Adrienne Tawa had to step away from it earlier in the fall. 

Southern Utah University's Musical Director Kevin Baker
rehearses "Messiah" with the Orchestra of Southern Utah
and the Southern Utah Chorale group Thursday.

“They offered me the chance to work with the group and I just jumped at that,” he said. “It’s a wonderful tradition we have here in Cedar City.”
Xun Sun, who also serves as director of the SUU Symphony Orchestra, is music director and conductor for “Messiah.”

Baker described “Messiah” as a wonderful piece of music, adding that it is a piece that most musicians have done several times during their careers.

“It’s one of those pieces of music that no matter how often you do it, it seems like you find new and exciting things in it,” he said.

He added, “About the time you think you really know the piece, some other little insight arises and it brings a whole new level of understanding and enjoyment to the work.”

Baker said there are three or four pieces that stand as important pieces in the world of choral work, and “Messiah” is definitely one of those pieces. He said he finds it difficult to identify one selection, or movement, out of the piece as a favorite. He said he loves the trumpet shell sound and what it says about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the hope it provides to individuals.

He said although the chorale is not performing the selection, “All We Like Sheep,” it is a hilarious commentary by Handel on people as they start down the path of life, doing it well, and then they get lost and wander into the weeds.

Baker said he appreciates the opportunity to work on “Messiah” with the community members because they have been very receptive.

“They love doing this performance; they love the music, and they love offering this to the community,” he said.

Sara Penny, manager for OSU, said she thinks the performance of “Messiah” is a wonderful community event as the Christmas season advances.

“People love it,” she said.

She also said she appreciates the sponsorship of State Bank of Southern Utah and The Leavitt Group, which makes free admission to the concert possible. Additionally, she said, orchestra and chorale members donate their time to perform.

Kevin Baker rehearses "Messiah"
with the Orchestra of Southern
Utah and the Southern Utah
Chorale group.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Free Messiah Concert to Celebrate Season

The Orchestra of Southern Utah and Southern Utah Chorale perform their 72th concert of Handel’s Messiah Concert on Sunday, December 9th and Monday, December 10th 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. 

Due to the popularity of this holiday tradition, tickets are required.  Free tickets may be obtained at the Heritage Center Box Office, located at 105 North 100 East in Cedar City.  OSU and the Heritage Center ask that all ticket holders be seated no later that 7:15 pm.  Open seats will be released at that time to those without tickets on a first come first seat basis.

The Orchestra is hosting a food drive in conjunction with the Messiah Concerts.  All food will be donated to the Iron County Care & Share.  “Too many in Iron County are trying to get by on too little,” stated OSU President Harold Shirley.  “You can help stock our Care and Share Food Bank by bringing a canned good (or two) to this year’s Messiah performance.

This year, the Cedar City Interfaith Council will be giving away cookies after each night’s performance of Messiah. They will also be selling CDs to raise funds for our local Care and Share.

The Messiah Concert is conducted by OSU Conductor and Music Director Xun Sun.  The Chorale is under the direction of Kevin Baker.  Soloists include Larry Johnson, Annie Powell, Shaye Leavitt, Laurice Williamson, Melissa Leavitt, Taliah Byers, Jan Pressgrove, Alex Byers and Christina Meikle.

Due to the length of the Messiah, only portions of the oratorio to be performed.  This year’s pieces include the Overture, “And the Glory,” “O thou that tallest good tidings,” “For unto us,” “Glory to God,” “His Yoke is Easy,” “Lift up your heads,” “Hallelujah,” “Since By Man Came Death” and “Worthy is the Lamb” plus several of the popular arias.

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 countless times in December, though portions of the work are sometimes performed at Easter.

The Messiah Concert is performed Sunday, December 9th and Monday, December 10th.  Tickets may be obtained for no charge at the Heritage Center Box Office.  Doors open at 6:45 pm.  OSU and the Heritage Center asks that all ticket holders be seated no later that 7:15 pm.  Open seats will be released at that time to those without tickets on a first come first seat basis.

 Many in our area need a little extra at this time of year, so the Orchestra of Southern Utah encourages patrons to bring a few extra cans of food to help our Care and Share.  “When we each give a little, we help a lot,” said Shirley.

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 the Heritage Center Box Office at 435-865-2882.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Frolics, Funerals, and the OSU

By Bryce Christensen
Brahms never wrote a more mischievously frolicsome piece than his Academic Festival Overture, so facetiously playful in some passages that it dismayed straitlaced university dignitaries when it was first performed as Brahms’ official thank you for an honorary degree.  On the other hand, Beethoven never wrote more somber music than that found in the Second Movement of his Eroica Symphony, composed in imaginative anticipation of the death of Napoleon, and later performed at the funeral of Felix Mendelsohn and still later chosen to commemorate the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.   Yet somehow both of these numbers appeared on the program—with Strauss’s Serenade for Thirteen Winds and Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D thrown in for good measure!—when the Orchestra of Southern Utah (OSU) took the stage at the Heritage Center on November 8th for a concert exploring music of  unmatched emotional range. 
To be sure, the evening’s first number—Strauss’s tranquil Serenade for Thirteen Winds—gave little hint as to just how much emotional vicissitude would follow.  But even in the tranquility of this number, listeners could detect a certain textural complexity.  For beneath the buoyant serenity of the clarinets, flutes, and oboes, listeners discerned the deeper, subterranean repose of the French horns and bassoons.  And while the composition as a whole maintained a peaceful flow, stirrings of energetic assertion repeatedly bubbled to the surface.  Punctuating the harmony of the well-integrated ensemble, memorable solos—now flute, now oboe, now clarinet—punctuated this lyrical masterpiece.   
But the nostalgically resonant conclusion of the Strauss number was the signal for the entire orchestra to join the thirteen wind players for a number that plunged listeners into a much deeper well of 19th-century emotion.  Playing the second movement of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, the orchestra pulled the audience into funereal depths.  The grief of bereavement marks the opening measures of this stirring number, yet listeners soon feel a powerful groping towards consolation. And slowly the glimmerings of such consolation—in piercing notes of brass and luminous notes of strings—begin to flash through the darkness.  More than just consolation, something more akin to affirmation—and that on a grand scale—finally emerges, with a strength that validates the designation of this number as the Heroic Symphony.  To be sure, the heroic affirmation does subside to more plaintive and mournful strains.  Yet undercurrents of heroic vitality persist in the later passages of this movement, evincing the undying presence of an unconquerable will.  Even if that will does fade into elegy in the final notes, listeners cannot doubt that they are lamenting the passing of some titan, not some mere mortal. 
Making an even sharper tonal pivot than they had in moving from the concert’s first number to its second, the orchestra left Beethoven’s funeral march for the jocular impishness of Academic Festival Overture.  Bursting with irrepressible energy from its first notes, this is a number that sweeps listeners up in rollicking good fun!  Brahms borrowed freely from rowdy student drinking songs in composing this boisterous number: Brahms apparently chooses to acknowledge an academic honor by celebrating the delights of playing hooky at the local tavern!
The good-natured facetiousness of the work does eventually give way to a more sober and serious theme.  But in his gesture to the academy, Brahms never surrenders to dry pedantry.  Even in his very substantive conclusion, he remains vibrant and joyous, radiant with the kind of gladness that education too often lacks!  That OSU conductor Xun Sun understands such gladness was clearly evident in the infectious zeal with which he directed this thoroughly enjoyable number.
Having sampled serenity, sorrow, and glee, the OSU paused after the Intermission for a moment of gratitude.  Together, OSU President Harold Shirley and OSU Music Director and Conductor Xun Sun honored cellist Michelle Mackay Tincher for the decades of service with the Orchestra.  Having endured a leg amputation, the death of her husband, and macular degeneration, Tincher has herself experienced a prolonged cascade of emotions, many of them painful.  Yet her continuing and unfailingly cheerful presence in the orchestra manifests her unbreakable commitment to sharing her musical talent with the community, a commitment that should inspire musicians everywhere!
In the evening’s final number, a gifted guest soloist—violinist Dr. Paul Abegg--stepped into the spotlight and thrilled the audience with his performance of Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D.  Indeed, this marvelous number seemed to fold into a sublime culmination of all of the emotions of the evening—tranquility, sorrow, merriment, and gratitude.  From its pulsating opening notes to its dynamic final measures, the soloist and accompanying orchestra both soared on pinions of musical magic.   Impressive in his poised mastery of the music, Abegg rendered passages of kinetic striving and passages of reflective pensiveness with the deceptive ease that signals complete command.  At times, Abegg seemed to be playing as if in a trance, transported to unseen imaginative heights.  The accompanying orchestra, in turn, seemed to feed off from Abegg’s brilliant artistry--and to return it in kind.
Listeners could only marvel at Abegg’s exceptional talent—and hope that a performer so young would be back to the Heritage Center to share that talent again!
The emotions that OSU explored in this one relatively concert varied remarkably!  What did not vary, however, was the high level of musicianship, a musicianship fusing passion with grace in a rare musical alchemy.  Conductor Xun Sun, President Harold Shirley, and all the other officers and members of the Orchestra of Southern Utah deserve high praise for what do in repeatedly giving music-lovers in this community one rare and priceless emotion: exhilaration!  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Messiah Soloists and Chorale Starts Sunday, Oct. 28

On behalf of the Orchestra of Southern Utah, we thank you for auditioning for a solo in this year’s upcoming Messiah. We had far more audition than we had slots. Even if you were not chosen for a soloist this year, we would love to have you sing with us in the chorus. The following have been chosen for the following solos:

Larry Johnson                      Comfort Ye and Every Valley
Annie Powell                       Behold, A Virgin Shall Conceive and O Thou That Tellest
Shaye Leavitt                       There were Shepherds; And the Angel Said Unto Them; 
                                             And Suddenly
Laurice Williamson             Then Shall the Eyes of the Blind; He Shall Feed His Flock
Melissa Leavitt                    Come Unto Him
Taliah Byers                        He Was Despised
Jan Pressgrove                    I Know That My Redeemer Liveth
Alex Byers                          Behold, I tell you a Mystery; The Trumpet Shall Sound
Christina Meikle                 If God Be For Us

The Chorus will be singing: And the Glory; For Unto Us a Child is Born; Glory to God; His Yoke is Easy; Lift Up Your Heads; Hallelujah; Since By Man Came Death; and Worthy is the Lamb

Harold Shirley, President of the OSU Board
Kevin Baker, Cedar City Chorale Director
Pete Akins, OSU Executive Director
Gerald Rheault, OSU Assistant Conductor

Chorale rehearsals start this Sunday, Oct. 28,  from 7:00-9:00 pm at the LDS Church located at 256 South 900 West in Cedar City.  Community members are invited to join the Chorale.  The Chorale especially needs more male voices.  Chorale members do not need to audition, but should be able to commit to attending all rehearsals.

The Chorale will rehearse October 28, November 4, November 11, November 18, November 29 and December 2.

Dress rehearsals will be held with the Orchestra on December 6th (7 p.m.) and 8th (9 a.m.)  in the Heritage Center.  Please bring your own score to rehearsals.  Scores are available at Cedar Music Store and Studio, 602 South Main Street in Cedar City.

The Messiah concerts will be performed Sunday, December 9th and Monday, December 10th at the Heritage Center at 7:30 p.m.  The concert is a free gift to the community thanks to sponsorship from State Bank of Southern Utah and the Leavitt Group.  The Orchestra musicians and Chorale members donate their time to make this annual performance possible. Tickets are available at the Heritage Center box office.

For more information please contact Dr. Kevin Baker at 865-8380 or

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Brahms, Beethoven and Strauss Nov. 8

             Renowned violinist Dr. Paul Abegg joins the Orchestra of Southern Utah to present the Brahms, Beethoven & Strauss Concert on Thursday, November 8 at 7:30 pm at the Heritage Center in Cedar City.

            Abegg and the Orchestra perform Violin Concerto in D by Brahms. Brahms dedicated the three movement concerto to his friend, the violinist Joachim.  Joachim declared the concerto, which was Brahms only violin concerto, to be one of the four great German violin concerti.

            Abegg is Director of String Studies at Dixie State College where he teaches violin, viola, and conducts the Dixie State Symphony Orchestra.  As a soloist, Abegg has performed recitals throughout the United States as well as in Japan, Brazil, France, and England. His Chamber music experience includes performances with the Colson String Ensemble in France. He has played with the Lansing, Jackson, Flint, Kalamazoo, Flagstaff, Utah, Ballet West, Phoenix, and Spokane symphonies. Abegg has also performed in numerous orchestra festivals including the Northwest Bach Festival, Gilmore Piano Competition Orchestra (MI), Pine Mountain Music Festival (MI), Brevard Music Center, (NC), National Orchestral Institute (MD), Great Music West Festival (UT), Bear Lake Music Festival (UT), and the Grand Teton Music Festival Seminar, (WY).

            The Orchestra also performs the popular Academic Festival Overture by Brahms with rousing school songs celebrating college days. The program will be completemented by the somber 2nd movement of the Symphony #3 (Eroica) by Beethoven and Seranade for Winds by Strauss. 

            Beethoven originally wrote Eroica (Italian for “heroic”) with the intention of dedicating the symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte.  Beethoven admired the ideals of the French Revolution, and viewed Napoleon as their embodiment.  He decided, however, to dedicate the piece to Prince Franz Joseph Maximillian Lobkowitz, as he could collect a fee for doing so.  This dedication proved later to be a wise decision on Beethoven’s part, as Beethoven became disenchanted with Napoleon after declared himself Emperor of the French.  Upon hearing of Napoleon’s death in 1821, Beethoven stated, “I wrote the music for this sad event seventeen years ago” (referring to the 2nd movement of Eroica).

            Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He was born in 1864 in Munich, Germany.   He wrote his first composition at the age of six, and continued to write music almost until his death in 1949.  Strauss was a well-received composer, even through politically-charged times.  He composed music under the rule of the Kaiser, Fredricke Ebert, and Adolf Hilter.  Under Hilter’s rule, Strauss accepted the honorary position of president of the State Music Bureau, a post for which he did not know he had been nominated.  He accepted the position to protect his Jewish daughter-in-law and grandchildren.  He was also determined to preserve and conduct the music of banned composers such as Mahler and Debussy.  Strauss proved to be a thorn in the Nazi’s side for years, performing banned music and even composing political operas with Jewish composers.

            Major sponsors for the concert are the Utah Arts Council, Genevieve Gardner, and June Thorley.  “We appreciate the financial support which helps keep our ticket prices within reach of our community,” said Sara Penny, OSU manager.  “We are fortunate to live in an area where the arts are valued.  Our concerts are only possible because of the dedicated service of the musicians and the donations of individuals, businesses, and government.”
The Orchestra of Southern Utah Brahms, Beethoven & Strauss Concert featuring violinist Paul Abegg is performed Thursday, Nov. 8, at 7:30 pm.  Doors open at 6:45.  The OSU Woodwind Trio provides lobby music with Virginia Stitt, Sarah Solberg, and Hilary Stavros.

Tickets may be purchased for $10 adults and $5 for students (ages six and up); groups of six are $30 per concert.  Tickets are available at the Cedar City Heritage Center Box Office, 105 N. 100 E. or by calling 435-865-2882. Purchasing tickets in advance is recommended. Discounted season tickets are also available for $30.

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

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

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bach & Bruckner Concert Review

Back to School With OSU
By Bryce Christensen
With its first concert of the 2012-13 season, the Orchestra of Southern Utah (OSU) brought listeners back to school.  But with a program culminating in Symphony No. 8 by Anton Bruckner, it was an excitingly new school that welcomed the audience gathered at the Heritage Center on September 27th.  For Bruckner was a daringly innovative composer.  .In the opinion of leading musicologists, he “alone succeeded in creating a new school of symphonic writing” by giving the world a “new and monumental type of symphonic organism  . . . something elemental and metaphysical.” 
But in the first concert of its ’12-’13 Soundscapes series, OSU delivered a concert delivering lessons from the best of the old school and the best of the new.  So before bringing its listeners to the revolutionary new school of the Brucknerian symphony, OSU carried them along a delightful musical road with two refreshing stops at impressive harmonic edifices erected by that old-school Baroque schoolmaster Johann Sebastian Bach.
As the first of these stops, Bach’s Concerto No. 1 in C minor for Two Pianos showcased the talents of guest soloists Ericka Dobson at one keyboard and of OSU Assistant Conductor Gerald Rheault at the other.  In fact, Rheault carried the double role of piano soloist and orchestra director, adroitly leading OSU’s string section from his piano bench. Though not new, the musical lessons in this first concert schoolroom were rendered with grace and skill.  From the spritely yet elegant notes of the opening movement, to the stately and regally cadenced measures of the second movement, to the fervent heat of the kinetic third movement, conductor, soloists, and orchestra reminded listeners of just how much an 18th-century genius can still teach the 21st century about harmonic beauty. 
Years of advanced study and concert experience were evident in Rheult’s impressive dual performance as piano soloist and conductor of the evening’s first number.  Perhaps more surprising was the poised and memorable performance of Dobson as the second piano soloist.  Though just an undergraduate at SUU, Dobson performed with the aplomb and self-possession of a mature and older musical artist.
For the second number on the evening’s program—Bach’s Cantata 196—the OSU strings were joined by a choir under the direction of Adrianne Tawa and James Harrison.  Opening with a Baroque richness redolent of the opulent courts of 18th-century royalty, the strings were then joined by the resonant and well-trained voices of the choir, singing with a devotional intensity suggestive not so much of the palatial courts of the Enlightenment as of the magnificent cathedrals of Europe’s high medieval era.  As the soprano soloist for the Aria, Sara Guttenberg sang a stream of liquid gold, her soaring voice an irresistible current of vocal joy.
Melding their voices in the darker-toned Duetto, the tenor Lawrnce Johnson and the baritone Alex Byers together wove a textured fabric of soul-probing striving.  Familiar to Cedar City music-lovers for his strong solos over the years in the Messiah, Johnson met and exceeded the high expectations he has created by his past performances.  But as a gifted young voice fully able to complement the much more seasoned Johnson, Byers identified himself as a rising star in Cedar City’s musical skies.
In the final section of the Cantata, the combined voices of the full chorus swelled in a jubilant uprising of devout passion, point and counterpoint merging in a brilliant tapestry of worshipful complexity.
After the intermission, having twice visited the venerable schoolroom maintained by Bach, OSU was ready for its marvelously new-school destination:  the Finale of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8.   Even in this excerpt from the complete Symphony, listeners thrilled to the bold originality of Bruckner’s symphonic architecture, an architecture that frequently shifts in vertiginous ways. 
Taut with tension in its opening notes, the Finale transitions unpredictably—now reflectively tranquil, now morosely brooding, now martially combative, now angelically celestial, now infernally fiery, and now coolly quiescent. To meet the challenge of this daunting number, the full OSU orchestra added the talents of the Symphony Orchestra of Southern Utah.   Some of the abrupt musical transitions made unusual demands on listeners.  But it is a high tribute to the gifts of OSU conductor and director Xun Sun that he drew from the combined orchestras a sustained interpretive sensitivity through all of the diverse moods of this difficult masterpiece.  Whether in pacific calm or turbulent kineticism, conductor and orchestras delivered musicianship of the highest order.  Under Sun’s ardent baton, strings, winds, brass, and percussion all met the demanding test that Bruckner set before them, and did so with praiseworthy distinction.
Under a musical spell that persisted after the last round of applause had died away, the audience for this first OSU concert of the season left the concert hall deeply grateful for the opportunity to be back at school under the tutelage of such inspiring musical masters. Lessons as musically rewarding as the ones OSU delivered in this concert indeed left listeners counting the days until OSU class is back in session in November, when Bach, Beethoven, and Strauss will set the curriculum.   

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Handel’s Messiah Solo Auditions and Rehearsals Announced

            Solo auditions for the Orchestra of Southern Utah and Southern Utah Chorale’s 72nd Handel’s Messiah Concert will be held Saturday, October 13th from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon at the SUU Music Building, Room 206.  Please contact Dr. Kevin Baker at 865-8380 or to schedule an audition time.
            Chorale rehearsals for the performance Sunday, October 28th from 7:00-9:00 pm at the LDS Church located at 256 South 900 West in Cedar City.  Community members are invited to join the Chorale.  The Chorale especially needs more male voices.  Chorale members do not need to audition, but should be able to commit to attending all rehearsals.
            The Chorale will rehearse October 28, November 4, November 11, November 18, November 29 and December 2.  Dress rehearsals will be held with the Orchestra on December 6th and 8th in the Heritage Center.  Please bring your own score to rehearsals.  Scores are available at Cedar Music Store and Studio, 602 South Main Street in Cedar City.
“Due to health issues Adrianne will be unable to direct Messiah this season.  We want to wish her a speedy recovery and look forward to her return next season,” stated OSU President Harold Shirley.
“We are pleased to announce,” Shirley continued, “that Dr. Kevin Baker has agreed to conduct the Chorale for our 72nd Messiah.”  Baker serves as Director of Chorale Activities at SUU.  He directs the SUU Concert Choir and Opus. He also teaches choral conducting, choral techniques and studio voice.
            The Messiah concert will be performed Sunday, December 11th and Monday, December 12th at the Heritage Centre.  The concert is a free gift to the community thanks to sponsorship from State Bank of Southern Utah and the Leavitt Group.  The Orchestra musicians and Chorale members donate their time to make this annual performance possible. 


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Calling For Submissions

Do you love the Orchestra of Southern Utah?  Do you have a story relating to our group or to Cedar City music history?   Do you know some interesting facts about a composer or piece of music we have used?  If so, we are pleased to announce that we are now accepting short blog posts by guest authors.  Please send any submissions to  Happy writing!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bach and Bruckner

            The Orchestra of Southern Utah opens their 2012-2013 Concert Season: Soundscapes with an evening of Bach and Bruckner on Thursday, September 27 at 7:30 p.m.  These celebrities of Classical Music have their works featured by the Orchestra, guest pianists, and the Southern Utah Chorale.

The Orchestra welcomes featured artists Gerald Rheault and Erika Dobson, who perform Bach’s Concerto No. 1 in C minor for 2 Pianos. 

            Rheault is the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s Greenshow Music Director and Associate Conductor.  He plays keyboard in the Les Miserables pit orchestra.  He serves as Assistant Conductor for OSU.  Rheault also currently holds the position of SUU College of Visual and Performing Arts Staff Music Director, Conductor and Accompanist.

            Dobson is a student at SUU majoring in biology and minoring in music.  She has performed with the National Federation of Music Club for several years and was selected to perform at Utah State Solo & Ensemble.  In addition to playing the piano, Dobson is also proficient with the flute.

            Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist.  His abilities as an organist were highly respected throughout Europe during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognized as a great composer until the early 1800s. He is now generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time

The Southern Utah Chorale, under the direction of Adrianne Tawa and James Harrison, joins the Orchestra for Bach’s Cantata BVW 196.  Soloists will be soprano Sara Guttenberg, tenor Lawrence Johnson, and baritone Alex Byers.  Guttenberg and Johnson are SUU Music faculty musicians and Byers is an SUU student. 

Bach performed a cantata each Sunday and feast day as the musical director of the Leipzig’s Boys’ Choir.  The cantatas corresponded to the scriptural readings of the week. Bach  composed over 300 sacred cantatas, as well as a number of secular cantatas, usually for civic events such as council inaugurations.

The September 27 concert concludes with Symphony #8, Finale by Bruckner, performed by OSU and the SUU Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Xun Sun.

                     Anton Bruckner was an Austrian composer known for his symphonies, masses, and motets.  His humility was widely recognized among composers of his day.  Bruckner was greatly admired by later composers, including his friend Gustav Mahler, who described him as "half simpleton, half God".

The Orchestra of Southern Fall Concert features composers Bach and Bruckner on Thursday, September 27 at 7:30 pm.  Doors open at 6:45. 

Tickets may be purchased for $10 adults and $5 for students (ages six and up); groups of six are $30 per concert.  Tickets are available one week prior to the concert at the Cedar City Heritage Center Box Office, 105 N. 100 E. or by calling 435-865-2882. Purchasing tickets in advance is recommended. Season tickets are also available at the Box Office and Cedar Music Store and Studio.

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

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


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Recitals Each Tuesday Through Oct. 2

16th Annual Fall Recital Series Starts Sept. 4
            The Orchestra of Southern Utah is pleased to announce its 16th Annual Recital Series.  The five week series includes evenings of musical favorites, as well as a patriotic tribute which commemorates 9/11.

            The series opens Tuesday, September 4, with Musical Potpourri.  This special evening of musical favorites is presented under the direction of Jackie Jackson.  Women’s choir In Jubilo sings favorites from Mary Poppins (including “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious), “How Can I keep from Singing?” arranged by Jane R. Feldsted, “Mister Sandman” arranged by Ed Lojeski, “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair” by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and “Danny Boy” by Fred E. Weatherly.  Pianists Tereasa Redd and Cynthia Jorgensen perform “Amazing Chopsticks.”  Megan Nelson sings “The Man I Love.”

            The Tuesday, September 11 recital is a Patriotic Tribute.  It honors America, its freedoms and people.  Master Singers honor the recital with national favorites directed by Keith Bradshaw.  Vocal trio Christine Reed, Susy Benson, Megan McKibben sing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” with Bev Sawyer on the piano.  Violinists Heather Burton and Heather Grafelman, violist Allen Butt and cellist John Figueiredo perform patriotic medley “Land of Liberty.” Accidental 5 Brass Ensemble, Liahona Axelson and Color Country Winds also perform.

            Folk Music is the theme for the Tuesday, September 18 recital.  Selections include folk songs, family heritage music, and non-Western compositions.  Violinist Tori Calmity and pianist Kirsten Nevins perform “Souvenir de Sarasate” by Potstock.  Pianist Jack Vickers plays “Seven Good-Humored Variations on a Ukrainian Folksong” by Dmitri Kabalevsky.” Cellist Nina Hansen plays “Julie-O,” as well as a duet with oboist Patrice Ramsay.  The Home Girls (Pam Warburton, Hayli Warbuton and Kylee Landon) sing folk songs for vocal trios.  Jim Howells and Des and Sara Penny play in a vocal, guitar and violin trio.  Hannah and Art Kaufmann also perform Scarborough Fair.

            The Tuesday, September 25 recital highlights the Romantic Era. It features favorite musical selections of Romantic Era composers.  Pianists Tasha Seegmiller and Diane Decker perform “Rondo for Two Pianos” by Chopin.  Soprano Jackie Jackson sings a Schubert aria.  Cellist Michael Wager and pianist Charity Whitaker play “Cello Sonata” by Chopin.  The James Earl Jones Quintet (violinists Heather Burton and Heather Grafelman, cellist John Figueiredo, violist Allen Butt and pianist Logan Butt) perform “Quintet” by Brahms. Pianists David Sun plays and “Etude” by Kabelevsky; sister and fellow pianist Sarah Sun performs “Famtasie Impromptu No 4” by Chopin.  The Southern Utah Quintet plays “Dvorak Quintet, 1st Mvt”.

            Finale Favorites on Tuesday, October 2, concludes the 2012 Fall Recital Series. Violinist Ruth Ipson and piano Mary Anne Andersen perform “Meditation” from Thais by Massenet. Andersen also performs “Symphonie Espagnole, 1st Mvt” by Lalo with violinist Jessie Stephenson and “Chaconne” by Vitali with violinist Sara Ipson. Siblings Jack and Halle Vickers play “Sparklers” by Robert Vandall. Vocalist Fred Dunnell sings “It’s a Wonderful Life” by George Weiss and Bob Thiele, accompanied by Teri Kenney on the piano.  Lyric Soprano Sally Hunter Jensen also performs with Carylee Zwang on percussion.

The Orchestra of Southern Utah Fall Recital Series is held at the St. Jude’s Episcopal Church (70 North 200 West) in Cedar City.   Recitals begin at 7:30pm.  There is a suggested $5 donation for adults and $3 for students.  Children over the age of six are welcome at all the recitals with adult supervision.  OSU requests that babies and children less than six years old not attend as recitals are recorded.

The Orchestra would like to thank Reverend Susan Allman and the congregation at St. Jude’s for their continued support.  “The church has exceptional acoustics and it’s a privilege to perform there,” said Penny.  More information: or 435-586-2286.