Concert Celebrates Talented Young Artists
The Orchestra of Southern Utah R. L. Halversen Young Artist Concert on Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 pm highlights the musical abilities of four young musicians as they perform as soloists with the Orchestra. The Orchestra also performs George Enesco’s first Romanian Rhapsody and Jean Sibelius’ Finlandia. The concert is held in the City Cedar Heritage Center, 105 N. 100 East.
This annual concert features performances by talented young artists residing in Southern Utah. The artists were chosen following a competitive audition process for the opportunity to perform with the Orchestra of Southern Utah and the conductor will be OSU Conductor, Xun Sun. This year’s Young Artists are Hilary Stavros, Taylor Armstrong, McKenzie James Warren and Benjamin Morton.
Stavros performs an Oboe Concerto by Vincenzo Bellini. Stavros, a native of New Harmony, started violin lessons at age seven with Patty Walser. She began studying the oboe with Dr. Virginia Stitt at age 12. Stavros studied both through high school. She then focused her attention solely on oboe upon entering college, studying with the late Mark Weiger and Dr. Andrew Parker at the University of Iowa. While attending college, she participated with numerous local musical groups, including a premiere of a Russian seven-string guitar concerto and as a contracted musician for the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra. Since graduating in May, she has returned to Southern Utah teaches orchestra at North, South, and East Elementary Schools, as well as a choir at a girls’ treatment center in Hurricane. She also teaches privately.
Armstrong performs the dynamic Concerto for Marimba and String Orchestra by Eric Ewazen at the April 19 concert. He is the son of Dr. John and Jill Armstrong of Kanab. Armstrong started studying the piano at age eight. At age 10 he began his career as a percussionist, studying with his grandfather. Armstrong is proficient on the snare drum, drum set and timpani but admits he prefers the marimba’s “beautiful sound and challenging repertoire.” Armstrong has performed with the Honor Band of America in Indianapolis, Indiana, one of six percussionists nationwide selected to participate. Taylor graduated from Kanab High School as an honor student. He is now a freshman music major at SUU, studying Dr. Lynn Vartan.
Warren plays contrasting movements of the Violin Concerto No. 5 in a minor, Op. 37 by Henri Vieuxtemps. Warren has been playing the violin since the age of 11. After graduating from high school, he auditioned for a music scholarship at Dixie State College and has been performing regularly since his acceptance into DSC. Warren is pursuing his Bachelor's Degree in Violin Performance and studies under Dr. Paul Abegg of DSC. He has performed both violin and viola with many ensembles, including the Dixie State College Symphony Orchestra, Southwest Symphony, as well as many pit orchestras and chamber ensembles. He teaches students of his own in his spare time.
Morton plays the exciting finale of the Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73, “Emperor” by Ludwig von Beethoven. Morton, son of Thad and Gina Morton, is a freshman at SUU majoring in piano performance. Morton studied piano with Sally MacArthur in South Carolina from the age of six, as well as at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities during his last two years of high school. While in high school, Benjamin won the South Carolina MTNA Piano Duet Competition in 2011. He organized a jazz quintet at the South Carolina Governor’s School that performed for various events such as BMW’s Year-End Gala. He also enjoys playing the tin whistle.
The Orchestra also performs George Enesco’s Romanian Rhapsody #1 and Jean Sibelius’ Finlandia.
Romanian Rhapsody #1, and its counterpart Romanian Rhapsody #2, is Enesco’s best-known compositions. The pieces were written in 1901, when Enesco was a young artist of 19 years old, and premiered together in 1903. They have since become a permanent addition to almost every major orchestra’s repertory. Romanian Rhapsody #1 is, in essence, a dance and is dedicated to Enesco’s friend and fellow composer Bernard Crocé-Spinelli.
Finlandia was originally composed in 1899 as a covert protest against censorship from the Russian Empire. The piece was even renamed at various musical concert to avoid censorship: one humorous example being Happy Feelings at the Awakening of Finnish Spring. The music is rousing and turbulent, signifying the national struggle of the Finnish people. Near the end, however, calm comes over the orchestra and the peacefully melodic Finlandia Hymn is heard.
The Orchestra of Southern Utah R.L. Halversen Young Artist Concert honors a beloved teacher on Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 pm. Doors open at 6:45. Lobby music is provided by the talented woodwind trio of Virginia Stitt, Sarah Solberg, and Aubrey Shirts. Major sponsors for this concert are the Dixie and Anne Leavitt Foundation through the Rotary Foundation and June Thorley.
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. Box Office hours are Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. 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 www.orchestraofsouthernutah.org or call Sara Penny at (435) 586-2286.