Sunday, February 26, 2012

Photos by Jim Case from Feb. 23, 2012 Concert

Lobby Music by Sabrina Parry
Harold Shirley, OSU President
Guest Artist Kirill Gliadkovsky
Orchestra of Southern Utah directed by Xun Sun

Thanks to all for a great concert.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Review of Feb. 23, 2012 Concert

An Outpouring of Russian Feeling
By Bryce Christensen

“I am a Russian composer,” declared Sergei Rachmaninoff, “and the land of my birth has inevitably influenced my temperament and outlook. My music is the product of my temperament, and so it is Russian music.  . . . I try to make my music speak simply and directly that which is in my heart at the time I am composing. If there is love there, or bitterness, or sadness, or religion, these moods become part of my music, and it becomes either beautiful or bitter or sad or religious. For music is as much a part of my living as breathing and eating. I compose music because I must give expression to my feeling, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts.”   The marvelous expression that Rachmaninoff gave to his feelings was a reason for rejoicing among the music-lovers who gathered at the Heritage Center on February 23rd to share with the Orchestra of Southern Utah (OSU) a night devoted to Russian Romantic Masterpieces.  For it was Rachmaninoff’s enchanting Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor that the orchestra featured as the opening number, a number that from its stirring opening notes to its powerfully percussive conclusion set the mood for the entire magical evening.
In introducing the opening number, OSU President Harold Shirley promised an ascent into “musical heaven”—and the OSU musicians, under the impassioned baton of Xun Sun delivered on that promise.  Of course, no musician did more to lift listeners to celestial heights than guest pianist Kiril Gliadkovsky, a gifted musician whose talents and biography singularly qualified him to interpret the Romantic outpouring of a deeply Russian genius.  By turns pensively languid and irrepressibly kinetic, Gliadkovsky captured the audience with his masterful rendering of a difficult but powerful score. Particularly memorable were the dreamlike passages, redolent with an intense lyricism, in the second movement, and the pyrotechnic explosion of the final movement.  An impressive soloist, Gliadkovsky delivered Rachmaninoff’s high musical artistry with rare sensitivity and skill. 
Perfectly complementing Gliadkovsky’s performance as a soloist, the orchestra melded their collective talents in a beautifully woven musical tapestry--strings, winds, brass, and percussion all seamlessly joined.  The philosophical problem of the One vs. the Many has never found a more harmonious resolution!  Especially compelling were the passages when a second soloist—notably Pete Atkins on the French horn in the first movement and Ariel Rhoades on the flute in the second movement—intertwined with Gliadkovsky on the piano.   Against the harmonic backdrop of the entire orchestra, these instrumental duets burned with a particularly memorable luminescence.  
After the intermission, the symphony’s strings—with Melissa Thorley-Lewis as guest concertmaster—offered a second work of Russian Romanticism.  To be sure, the composer of “Lara’s Theme” (Maurice Jarre) was himself French; however,  his composition was part of the sound track for Doctor Zhivago, a film focused on unmistakably Romantic emotions in a Russian setting.   And the OSU rendering—suffused with tender yearnings—poignantly sustained the evening’s theme.
With OSU’s brass, wind, and percussion musicians back on stage, the full orchestra turned for the final number to another undeniably Russian composer—Modest Mussorgsky, inspired to write his most famous suite (Pictures at an Exhibition) by the paintings of another decidedly Russian creator, Viktor Hartmann.  Narrated by OSU President Harold Shirley, OSU’s performance of Mussorgsky’s work opened to the audience an array of imaginative vistas, as listeners contemplated ten diverse paintings, each translated from visual into aural artistry.  Summoned by the piercing opening trumpet notes of the Promenade, listeners moved through a harmonic gallery, pausing before the Gnomus to observe the furtive, skulking movements of an ill-tempered dwarf; contemplating The Old Castle, as the imposing scene for the noble romance of medieval chivalry; listening in on the lively marketplace gossip of peasants gathered at The Market at Limoges; shuddering with dread in the morbid gloom of Catacombs; recoiling in fear at the approach of the man-eating witch who lives in The Hut on Fowl’s Legs; and finally admiring the majestic splendor of the Great Gate of Kiev.   Given the sharp contrast in the pictures visited, listeners could only marvel at how fully the orchestra conveyed the mood of each--and then deftly negotiated the transitions!  Also deserving of favorable mention were the slides projected on the auditorium walls during this number, each slide giving a striking visual interpretation of the picture then being visited.
Few of those who gathered in the Heritage Center on the 23rd will ever visit Moscow, Kiev, or St. Petersburg.  But thanks to the musical wizardry of the Orchestra of Southern Utah, all left the concert hall carrying something of the enduring Romance of great Russian music.  Xun Sun and all the orchestra musicians deserve high praise, as do the generous donors (the George S. and Delores DorĂ© Eccles Foundation, the Sterling and Shelli Gardner Foundation, the Charles Maxfield and Gloria F. Parrish Foundation, and Barrie and Diane S. Strachan) who supported the concert.   For a few glorious hours, Cedar City’s Heritage Center opened onto the immense steppes of a distant land! 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Concert this Thursday

Great Romantic era music by Rachmaninoff and Mussorgsky on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m. in the Heritage Center in Cedar City.  
Program and recording information updated on website:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Children’s jubilee draws crowd, integrates music, art and science

Children’s jubilee draws crowd, integrates music, art and science: CEDAR CITY – Families were invited to enjoy a day of creativity and hands-on science activities hosted by the Orchestra of Southern Utah at this year’s Children’s Jubilee, Musical Images: Music Ins...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thanks to all the artists, musicians, and scientists who are helping us create a magical afternoon this Saturday, Feb. 11.

Doors open at 1 p.m.
Displays from local music stores and museums
Art displays from school art projects
Three Peaks Children's Choir at 1:15
Face painting with Lydia Brescia
Bubble Fountain with Kendall Beatty
Usborne books with Andrea McConahay

2 p.m. Pictures at an Exhibition with narration by Harold Shirley and art projections by Linda Johnson.  Orchestra of Southern Utah directed by Xun Sun.

3 p.m. Hands on science exploring the world of color under Laura Cotts
and art projects and storytelling with Art Fusion directed by Carrie Trenholm
Face painting directed by Jenni Rock

Thanks to the sponsors:  Color Country Pediatrics, Rocky Mountain Power Foundation