Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Celebrating the Reason for the Season

By Bryce Christensen

     “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” Few experiences evoke the deepest meaning of Christmas as profoundly as does listening to Handel’s glorious Messiah. Sunday, December 8th, and Monday, December 9th, hundreds gathered at the Heritage Center to share in this wonderful experience. They did not go away disappointed. Once again, the Orchestra of Southern Utah (OSU) and the Southern Utah Chorale combined their talents to deliver a deeply memorable performance of this holiday masterpiece.
     It was a performance that, as OSU President Harold Shirley promised it would in his welcoming remarks, lifted those present past the commercial insanity of Black Friday by “putting Christ back in Christmas.” Indeed, as the orchestra musicians responded to the impassioned conducting of OSU director Xun Sun and as the vocalists poured forth the inspired music they had prepared under Chorale director Adrianne J. Tawa, listeners were buoyed heavenward by more than musical technique. From the regal opening strains of the introductory “Overture” to the resounding final Amens of “Worthy is the Lamb That Was Slain,” this was a concert suffused with convictions that make Christmas a holy day, not just a holiday.
     Once again, Adrianne Tawa brought to the stage vocal soloists whose gifts talents elevated their music into a sublime Christmas gift to the audience. Beginning with tenor Jordan Sanders, who rendered “Comfort Ye My People” with a tender pleading and “Every Valley Shall Be Exalted” with the firm surety of prophetic vision, the solos carried the audience above the mundane into regions tinged with the celestial. Bass Jacob Pohlsander maintained the same vocal excellence, while demonstrating remarkable versatility in his four solos. Moving from his depth-plumbing rendition of “Thus Saith the Lord,” he opened “But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming” with a reflective pathos that gave way to sterner measures anticipating the fiery justice of God against the wicked. In his later solo “Behold, I Tell You a Mystery,” Pohlsander delivered the profound sublimity of “Behold, I Tell You a Mystery” before segueing into the thrilling “The Trumpet Shall Sound,” his radiant words accompanied by the piercing beauty of Adam Lambert’s trumpet solo.
     This year’s performance of the Messiah—Cedar City’s 73rd—indeed comprised more male solos than listeners had heard in recent years. Familiar through his strong performances in past years, tenor Lawrence Johnson was, predictably, among the male soloists, as he again lived up to high expectations with the monitory forcefulness with which he infused “He That Dwelleth in Heaven” and “Thou Shalt Break Them.”
However, this year’s concert also featured outstanding female soloists. Soprano Ami Gent opened “There Were Shepherds Abiding in the Field” with an intense expectancy that opened into the soaring ecstasy of “And the Angel Said Unto Them” and “And Suddenly There Was With the Angel.”
      Likewise impressive, soprano Ashley Rowland delivered “Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion” with a marvelous exultance. Alto Taliah Byers imbued “Then Shall the Eyes of the Blind Be Opened” with heart-stirring wonder and “He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd” with a perfectly modulated delicacy and warmth, before soprano Jan Pressgrove joined her to sing “Come Unto Me” with an irresistible plaintiveness.
Soprano Annie Powell interpreted “How Beautiful are the Feet” with an overflowing wonder and awe, and soprano Janice Shaw instilled in “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” a luminous and penetrating hope.
     Complementing the superb solos were the compelling chorus numbers, fusing the voices of dozens of gifted vocalists into a great river of potent yet disciplined music. Who would not yield to the thrilling rapture of “And the Glory of the Lord,” the joyous celebration of “For Unto Us a Child Is Born,” the empyreal elation of “Glory to God,” the insistent staccato of “All We Like Sheep,” the reverent adulation of “Worthy is the Lamb That Was Slain,” and—of course—the holy enthusiasm of “Hallelujah”? All of these well-known and well-loved choruses filled the Heritage Center with a rare bliss. Also deserving of favorable attention is “Their Sound is Gone Out”: the chorale was superb in capturing the restless energy of this moving--albeit less familiar and often-omitted--number. Adrienne Tawa merits high praise for having the Chorale so fully prepared for a dauntingly long and difficult program!
     Likewise praiseworthy, OSU director Xun Sun had the instrumentalists under his baton fully ready both to accompany the vocalists who performed this night and to shine in their own right in opening “Overture” and in the serene interlude of the “Pastoral Symphony.” Together, strings, winds, brass, and percussion seamlessly joined to magnify the magic of the vocal performers, their contribution unobtrusive but essential in accompanying the soloists, powerful and dynamic in swelling the majestic choruses. As the honored instrumentalist of the concert, percussionist James Harrison deserves special mention. His years of devoted service with OSU (and other local and state ensembles) were manifest in his mastery of the timpanic rhythms he provided for this unforgettable night of Christmas music.
     But concert-goers had ample reason to thank all the musicians—instrumental and vocal—involved in this performance. Thanks, too, should go to the concert sponsors—the State Bank of Southern Utah and the Leavitt Group—for giving Cedar City a much-needed reminder of what and why we celebrate at Christmas!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Free Messiah Concert: "Listen to my Heart"

Performance in the old auditorium above the Iron County School District offices, 1999. Gerard Yun conducting.

(Photo from late 1990's performance of Handel's Messiah in Cedar City, David Cole conducting.)

Handel’s Messiah: It stirs the heart and enlivens the mind with memories of Christmases gone before.  The Orchestra of Southern Utah and OSU Chorale invite you to listen and remember as they perform Cedar City’s 73th concert of Handel’s Messiah.

            The meaningful nature of the Messiah and this year’s theme Listen to my Heart inspired OSU Chorale Director Adrianne Tawa as she chose the performance’s repritoire.  “The poetic idea I used as the jumping off spot this year is ‘being broken open’...We all can claim dwelling in darkness from time to time and we all need to be broken open like a potter's vessel in order to receive great light.   Open, vulnerable hearts, both receiving and giving…"

 This inspiring concert is held Sunday, December 8th and Monday, December 9th at 7:30 pm held in the Heritage Center.  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.  OSU and the Heritage Center strongly recommend obtaining your free tickets in advance.  Tickets are available at the Heritage Center Box Office, located at 105 North 100 East in Cedar City. 

The Messiah Concert is conducted by OSU Conductor and Music Director Dr. Xun Sun.  Vocal soloists include Jordan Sanders, Ami Gent, Ashley Rowland, Taliah Byers, Jan Pressgrove, Annie Powell, Dr. Lawrence Johnson, Janese Shaw, and Jacob Pohlsander.  Dr. Adam Lambert is the featured trumpet soloist in the rousing "And the Trumpet Shall Sound".

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.”

The Messiah Concert is performed Sunday, December 8th and Monday, December 9th.  Doors open at 6:45 pm.  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.

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 www.orchestraofsouthernutah.org or call the Heritage Center Box Office at 435-865-2882.


Article by Laurel Kay Dodgion, OSU Publicity Director

More information  
Heritage Center Box Office:  435-865-2882
Office open 9 to 5, 
located at southwest corner of building near the parking garage

OSU: 435-586-2286

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Orchestra Of Southern Utah Proves Legends Never Die

                                                              by J.S. Wayne

       Cedar City, UT—The Orchestra of Southern Utah held their fall concert, Legends Never

Die, at the Heritage Theater in downtown Cedar City on the evening of Saturday, November

9, 2013, playing to a nearly full house. The pieces performed by the orchestra included

Wagner’s Overture from Die Miestersinger, used in the 1931 screen version of Dracula starring

Bela Lugosi and also familiar in college graduation ceremonies as the music played while

the audience takes their seats; Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber, used in movies such

as Lorenzo’s Oil and The Elephant Man as well as background music for a number of state

funerals worldwide; Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, eminently recognizable from the opening

to the television show The Lone Ranger, the movie Apocalypse Now and others; and the world

premiere of Dr. Keith Bradshaw’s Canyon Concerto, celebrating the geology and grandeur of

various points around Southern Utah.

       One of the great joys of attending an orchestral performance is seeing the technical

mastery of the performers, and this evening was no exception. The performers’ command of

the pieces was tested almost immediately by a lighting malfunction that plunged the stage into

darkness for a brief moment about two and a half minutes into the concert. To their credit, the

players never faltered in their performance during the blackout. Their enjoyment and command

of the pieces they were playing was evident throughout the evening, as was the energy and

enthusiasm of Dr. Xun Sun, the orchestra’s conductor.

       The haunting, pensive rendition of the Adagio For Strings felt like a melodic poem

speaking to the journey through grief to the acceptance on the other side, while the two Wagner

pieces were performed with all the fire, pomp, and bombast one would expect. During the

opening to Valkyries, someone in the violin section jumped their cue and produced a single,

sharp off tone that cut through the cellos. The player immediately recognized their mistake and

the performance of the pieces was otherwise flawless. One could see Heaven’s handmaidens

swooping down onto a Norse battlefield to collect the valiant slain in the flourishes of the cellos

and the brassy cries of the trumpets.

       The end of the first act also gave Dr. Xun an inadvertent opportunity to showcase his

sense of humor. After applauding the performers and congratulating the first chair violinist and

concertmaster, LuAnne Brown, he turned to bow to the audience. As he did so, he stumbled

over the low step leading to his podium. He took the accident in stride, his smile equal parts

bemusement and chagrin as he bowed to the crowd, signaling the intermission.

       During the intermission, an array of percussion instruments was brought onto the stage

for the use of Lynn Vartan, the guest percussionist and soloist. Among those instruments

represented were tubular bells, also called chimes; a hang drum, which Vartan informed this

writer after the performance had to her knowledge never before been used in an orchestral

performance; a five-octave marimba, an instrument similar to a glockenspiel but with wooden

bars instead of steel; and even a gong. Meanwhile, images of geological points of interest around

Southern Utah were projected onto screens flanking each side of the stage.

       The second act, which consisted wholly of the world premiere of Keith Bradshaw’s

Canyon Concerto, was written by Bradshaw specifically for Vartan. The orchestra played

beautifully, but Vartan stole the show in a sequined magenta tunic and gold four-inch stiletto

heels as she rushed back and forth across the stage, working the audience as deftly as her

instruments. Her signature Western-Asian fusion style of percussion lent visual as well as audial

excitement to the Concerto.

          The first movement of the concerto, Dance of the Hoodoos, celebrates the large totem-

pole-like structures dotting Bryce Canyon. The music was eerily disconnected as Vartan and

the orchestra often took divergent paths, hinting at the rock formations swaying to music never

intended for human ears.

        The second movement, Hanging With Goblins, was inspired by the toadstool-like

formations of Goblin Valley. This spooky, Halloween-esque piece became very strange in the

middle, when the syncopated, complex music suddenly settled into a jazz riff intermezzo which

lasted about a minute and seemed to have nothing to do with the overall theme of the song before

returning to its original eerie theme.

       Gabbing With Gossips, the third movement, references the Three Gossips of Arches

National Park. This piece began with a lively three-way conversation which rose and fell like

three old women exchanging confidences and secrets amongst themselves before building as

each sister in turn rushed to add her own alleged knowledge to the discussion. Once all was said

and done, the conversation died to whispers, and then away altogether.

     The final movement, In The Court of the Patriarchs, was a big, bold, powerful piece

worthy of a Cecil B. DeMille epic. It references the Patriarchs of Zion National Park, named for

Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac of Biblical fame. This piece moved through the suffering of Abraham

as he prepared to sacrifice Isaac, Isaac’s travails in raising twelve children and caring for four

wives, and Jacob’s struggle with the Angel of the Lord. The piece ended with a stirring tonal

hymn punctuated by Vartan’s chimes, bells, and a gong.

     When the show was over, the audience gave Dr. Xun, Ms. Vartan, and the orchestra a

richly deserved standing ovation. This highly talented orchestra is well worth going to see, and a

reprise of this particular program would hardly come amiss.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Legends Never Die on a Special Night: Saturday, Nov. 9

      “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”  The Orchestra of Southern Utah notes that line from Apocalypse Now, but what they love, is the sound of a concert in the evening.  As such, the Orchestra is pleased to bring you Legends Never Die on a special night - Saturday, November 9.  This concert of forever famed movie music takes place at the Heritage Center (105 N 100 E) at 7:30 pm.

     Join OSU and the SUU Symphony Orchestra as they perform the majestic Ride of the Valkyries and Overture from Die Meistersinger, under the direction of Dr. Xun Sun, in honor of the legendary Richard Wagner’s 200th birthday.  Ride of the Valkyries has been featured in  Apocalypse Now, Rango, and A Bug’s Life, just to name a  few.  The Overture is very recognizable from its use in the movie Dracula.

     The Orchestra of Southern Utah and the SUU Symphony Orchestra also perform Adagio for Strings  by Samuel Barber.  This unforgettable work can be heard in the classic movies Elephant Man and  Scarlet Letter.  It is a perfect fit for this concert, which is sponsored by June Thorley and Genevieve I. Gardner.  “These ladies are steadfast supporters of the arts in Cedar City and we are pleased to present legendary music for this concert,” said Sara Penny, OSU Manager.

     The Saturday concert includes the world premiere of Canyon Concerto by Dr. Keith Bradshaw. "Canyon Concerto is based on four areas of Southern Utah: Bryce Canyon, Goblin Valley, Arches, and Zion's," Bradshaw explained.  “Each of the four movements treat formations in these areas, such as The Gossips in Arches, and Hoodoos in Bryce, imagining each coming to life, dancing, playing, chatting, or just visiting. The piece is written for my talented colleague, percussionist Dr. Lynn Vartan, who has contributed significantly to this work, beginning with an idea and seeing it come to life.” Vartan performs as guest soloist for the premiere.

     The Legends Never Die concert is Saturday, November 9, at 7:30 pm.  Doors open at 6:45.  Tickets may be purchased for $10 for adults, $5 for students (ages six and up), $30 for groups of six.    Tickets are available at the Cedar City Heritage Center Box Office by calling 435-865-2882 or online a http://www.heritagectr.org/.  Purchasing tickets in advance is recommended.  Season tickets are still available at the Box Office 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 www.orchestraofsouthernutah.org or email osucedarcity@gmail.com. Join the orchestra in this tribute to these legends in music.


Article by Laurel Dodgion, OSU Publicity and Education Director
Poster Design by Rollan Fell, Print Shoppe

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Magic of Movie Music

By Bryce Christensen 

     “Film music has been–and always will be–my music of choice,” writes critic Jim Lochner. “It’s the balm that soothes my pain, the jolt that jump-starts my passion, and the light in my day.” “When I hear those [film-music] melodies,” he explains, “I not only appreciate their beauty of composition. They remind me of a defining moment in my life and one from which I’ve never looked back. Film music has helped define who I am.” Because many shared Lochner’s feelings about movie music, the music-lovers who packed the Heritage Center on October 3rd found much to delight them in the Orchestra of Southern Utah’s first concert of the season, a concert devoted to classic cinema music, developing the theme “Soundtrack of Our Lives.”
Featuring five guest choirs, this movie-themed extravaganza transported audiences across space to the popcorn-in-the-dark ambiance of the movie theater and back in time to the years when a dozen featured movies first flickered across the silver screen.

     Beginning the evening on a playful note, the Canyon View High School Madrigal Choir, under the direction of Adrianne J. Tawa, amused the audience with their frisky interpretation of “Soul Bossa Nova,” featured in the soundtrack of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. With their spirited syncopations, accompanied by comically exaggerated gestures, the Canyon View singers brought bemused smiles to their listeners, smiles made all the wider by memories of the absurd hijinks of the 1997 film.

     Stirring softer and more innocent cinema recollection, the Canyon View singers then performed “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Spotlighting talented soloists Caroline Potter and Logan Heavyrunner, this beguiling number evoked all the wondrous movie-screen illusions that made The Wizard of Oz such a cherished escape from Depression-era realities when it first appeared in 1939.

     Taking the stage to celebrate more recent film melodies, the Cedar High School Madrigal Choir, under the direction of Mark Ganowsky, began with “Kiss the Girl” from 1989 hit The Little Mermaid. Sweeping the audience up in the romantic enchantment of Disney’s animated crowd-pleaser, the Cedar High singers delivered every “Sha la la” with irresistible warmth and verve.

     The Cedar High singers then shifted the mood as they turned to “Jai ho!” from Slumdog Millionaire, the much-acclaimed 2009 film set in Mumbai, India. Listeners could only marvel at how this versatile choir had suddenly filled a concert hall in Southern Utah with the exotic rhythms and the swelling dynamism of that distant and mysterious land.

     Keeping a cinema connection with Asia, the In Jubilo Choir next took the stage, under the direction of Jackie Riddle-Jackson, to perform “What a Wonderful World,” a sleeper hit that vaulted into national prominence when the 1987 movie Good Morning, Vietnam incorporated it in its soundtrack two decades after Louis Armstrong first recorded it. As listeners savored In Jubilo’s tender rendition, they felt again the heart-stirring emotion that made this number such a widely cherished part of the movie soundtrack.

     Turning from American soldiers in Vietnam to American convicts in the Deep South, In Jubilo then fused their collective musical gifts in a poignant rendition of “Down in the Valley to Pray.” This African-American spiritual captivated millions when the Coen Brothers movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? showcased Allison Krauss’ version of it in its soundtrack. As the Heritage Center audience listened to In Jubilo’s evocative pleading, many relived the movie, feeling again the pull of its soundtrack. In the perfectly modulated voices of In Jubilo, this old gospel melody deeply moved listeners, reminding them of how this devout melody somehow penetrated the facetious irreverence pervading the 2000 film.

     Transitioning to a sweetly languid mood, Southern Utah University’s Opus Choir, under the direction of Kevin Baker, next took the stage to perform “Summertime,” one of the songs made popular by the 1959 film adaption of the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. Opus’ impressive rendition of this number dripped with the honeyed languor of this beloved classic, yet still conveyed the brief intensity that breaks through in its “take to the sky” third stanza.

     Even more striking was Opus’ performance of “Make Our Garden Grow,” a number taken from Candide, the Leonard Bernstein 1956 operetta converted into a TV movie in 1991 and again in 2003. As their imploring voices conveyed something of the philosophic probing that Voltaire invested in the 18th-century book behind the operetta, Opus reminded listeners of just how much intellectual substance movies can occasionally deliver.

     As the last choir to take the stage, the Master Singers, under the direction of Dee Rich, began with “The Impossible Dream,” a number forever associated with the cinema performances of Peter O’Toole and Sophia Loren in the 1972 movie adaption of the Broadway favorite Man of La Mancha. As the voices of the Master Singers soared in world-defying idealism, listeners once again contemplated the Knight of the Woeful Countenance and his impossible yet inspiring mission in the service of Dulcinea.

     Demonstrating the remarkable breadth of their vocal talents, the Master Singers then performed “Sunrise, Sunset” from the 1964 movie Fiddler on the Roof. Voices that just moments before had expressed the unyielding valor of Don Quixote were now lamenting—with aching pathos—the fleeting and transitory nature of family joys.

     After the intermission, vocalists gave way to instrumentalists in exploring the treasures of movie music. Under the masterful baton of director Xun Sun, the Orchestra of Southern Utah delivered a truly memorable rendition of John Williams’ Overture to The Cowboys, the 1972 film starring—who else?—John Wayne, along with Slim Pickens and Bruce Dern. Opening with brassy assurance, the orchestra brought to life the entire parade of great movie cowboys—including not only the Duke, but also Gary Cooper, Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers. The irrepressible drive and élan of the orchestra’s cowboy romp soon carried listeners beyond the individual heroics of the cowpokes to the social verve of a high-steppin’ Western hoedown. The music then modulated into a plaintively reflective passage, suggestive of the majesty of a lonely night on the high plains, before swelling again into the striving cadences of a veritable cavalcade of horsemen.

     Yet in the final cinematic number of the evening, the crude and raw world of the 19th-century Western American cowboy yielded to the intense religious passion of 18th-century European worship. With all five choirs again taking the stage to join the orchestra, vocal and instrumental talents melded in an astonishingly potent performance of the Dies Irae and Lacrimosa segments of Mozart’s unfinished Requiem Mass in D minor, featured in the 1984 film adaption of Peter Shaffer’s stage play Amadeus. Taut with anguished anticipation of divine judgment, Dies Irae overwhelmed listeners with its emotive depth. These same listeners then heard the heartfelt pleadings of a lacerated soul craving divine mercy in Lacrimosa. No concert conclusion could have reminded the audience more forcefully that—at its best--movie music can plunge listeners down to the inferno and them lift them up almost to the gates of heaven! 

     As OSU’s Music Director and Conductor, Xun Sun—once again—deserves high praise for bringing marvelous music to Cedar City. Likewise praiseworthy are the five choir directors who had their singers remarkably well prepared to perform a wide range of superb music. One of those choir directors—namely, Jackie Riddle-Jackson—deserves particularly favorable attention, for it was she who took on the heavy responsibility of coordinating this concert, bringing together six different ensembles in organizational as well musical harmony.

     The fusion of so many Cedar City talents lent emphasis to the dedication of the concert to the memory of Irene Gentry Goodwin Bishop, who for decades did a great deal to enrich the musical life of the community. Her legacy will continue to give the region reason to rejoice in music of all kinds—including movie music!

Next OSU Concert:  Saturday, Nov. 9, featuring music by Wagner, Barber and Bradshaw

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Soundtrack of Our LIves

Preview at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XziZClbJaKw&feature=c4-overview&list=UU9nsAT3-XJ5YFB-_ENUw2BQ

Concert of Epic Movie Proportions

            The lights are coming up on the first concert of the Orchestra of Southern Utah’s Cinema Classics Season.  They have pulled out all the stopped for this event.  Thanks to the assistance of Concert Coordinator Jackie Jackson, Thursday, October 3, will unite the Orchestra with choirs In Jubilo, Master Singers, SUU Opus, Canyon View High School Madrigals and Cedar High School Madrigals in an evening of movie music masterpieces.  This epic performance, Soundtrack of Our Lives, takes place at the Heritage Center (105 N 100 E) at 7:30 pm.

            The concert is dedicated to the memory of Irene Goodwin Bishop, who played violin in countless Messiah performances and other orchestra concerts over her lifetime.

            In Jubilo sings “What a Wonderful World” and “Down in the Valley to Pray.”  “What a Wonderful World,” is featured in the Robin Williams’ movie, Good Morning Vietnam. “Down in the Valley to Pray” can be heard in Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou? In Jubilo is under the direction of Jackson; Teresa Redd is pianist.

            Master Singers performs "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha and “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof.  Dee Rich directs Master Singers; Danny Hansen acts as pianist.

            SUU Opus, conducted by Kevin Baker and accompanied by Jacob Lee, shares “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess and "Make Our Garden Grow" from Candide.

            Adrianne Tawa directs the Canyon View High School Madrigal Choir in “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz.  They then change themes to perform “Soul Bossa Nova” from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.

             The Cedar High School Madrigal Choir sings “Kiss the Girl” from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.  They then perform a vocal scene change with “Jai Ho!” from Slumdog Millionaire.

            The Orchestra of Southern Utah, conducted by Xun Sun, performs “Overture” to The Cowboys by legendary movie soundtrack composer John Williams.  The evening culminates with the combined choirs and Orchestra performance of two movements of Mozart’s “Requiem” as featured in the movie Amadeus.

            The Soundtrack of Our Lives concert is Thursday, October 3 at 7:30 pm.  Doors open at 6:45.  Lobby music is provided by Village Voices.  They perform (appropriately enough) soundtrack classics “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca, “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” from Guys and Dolls, “Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, “You'll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel and “Hushabye Mountain” from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  

            The major sponsor for this event is the RAP (Recreation, Arts, and Parks) Fund through Cedar City Corporation.   RAP provides essential funding for trails, parks, recreation groups, and artistic events in Cedar City.

Tickets for Soundtrack of Our Lives may be purchased for $10 for adults, $5 for students (ages six and up), $30 for groups of six.    Tickets are available at the Cedar City Heritage Center Box Office by calling 435-865-2882 or online at http://www.heritagectr.org/.  Purchasing tickets in advance is recommended.  Season tickets are also available at the Box Office and Cedar Music Store for $40.  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 email osucedarcity@gmail.com.

Friday, August 16, 2013

17th Annual Fall Recital Series Starts Sept. 3

Miriam Wagstaff is the current Utah State Fiddle Champ in her age division and performs in the  Sept. 17 recital.
The Orchestra of Southern Utah invites you to the 17th annual Fall Recital Series. Performances are every Tuesday in September, 7:30 p.m. at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church, 70 North 200 West in Cedar City. 

            The opening recital “From Baroque to Broadway”, on Tuesday, September 3, is directed by Jackie Jackson.  Broadway is brought to you by Jacob Phosander with music from Les Miserables and Parade.  Adam Lambert, Jackie Riddle Jackson and Teresa Redd perform Handel’s Gospel classic “Let the Bright Seraphim.”  Sadie Leavitt provides Pop with “Dream a Little Dream Medley.” Village Voices brings you Film Music (“Moon River”), Chorale (“When Allen-a-Dale went a Hunting”) and Big Band (“A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square”).  Cellist Deb Vradenburg provides the Classical element with “Sarabande” by LeClair; harpist Kendra Leavitt adds “Chanson La Nuit” by Carlos Salzedo; and Ashlee Rowland sings the Opera Aria “O Mio Babbino Caro” and music from Phantom of the Opera

            September 10 celebrates “All That Jazz,” an evening of jazz and cinema classics. Robert Gordon’s Jazz Ensemble starts off with movie music. The Southern Utah Quintet performs “Echoes of Harlem” by Duke Ellington, as well as “Love on the Rocks” and “Hello Again” by Neil Diamond.  Vocal group Common Ground shares Gershwin’s “Summertime”.  Haley Jean Dodgion highlights The Sound of Music. Violinist Sara and Ruth Ipson play “Schindler’s List Theme” by John Williams with Mary Anne Andersen.  David Bolsover and Adrianne Tawa perform “Notturno” by Grieg and the Allen Family presents a movie medley.

“Musical Stories” highlight September 17.  Common Ground performs “Always on My Mind,” “Land of the Navajo”, and “Nowhere Man.”    Southern Utah String Quintet plays music by Dvorak while Marin Colby and Mary Anne Andersen perform the finale of the César Franck’s romantic violin sonata.  Pianist Jack Vickers plays “Cuentos del Matador” by Rocherolle.  Champion fiddler Mariam Wagstaff performs a traditional Irish jig, and  a‘Texas Old-Time Fiddle Style” contest set.  Festival City Singers, vocalist Fred Dunnell, and pianist Teri Kenney complete the program.

            The recital series winds up with a musical whirl-wind trip “Around the World in 80 Minutes”.  “Fandango” by Michael McLean features violin duo Tori Calamity and Jessica Chamberlain with pianist Heather Carroll.    Debra Vradenburg and Linda Brimhall bring you music by Telemann.  Local composer Hal Campbell’s “Three Somewhats and an Almost” will be performed by LuAnne Brown, Colleen Dowse, Caroleen Lee, June Thorley, Carol Ann Nyman, Benjamin Lee, and the composer himself.  Halle and Jack Vickers join for “Russian Sailors’ Dance” by Reinhold.  Brown, Dowse, Thorley, Nyman and clarinetist Sarah Solberg perform Mozart’s “Quintet in A Major, K 581.  Ben Bradshaw, Mike Wallace and Virginia Stitt play “Bassoon Trio No. 2 in G minor” by Francois-Rene Gebauer.  The Reed Trio performs “Tango and Co” by Helga Warner-Buhlmann.

            A $5 donation for adults and $3 donation for students is appreciated; children over the age of six are welcome at all Orchestra events with adult supervision.  For more information, visit www.OrchestraofSouthernUtah.org ,  email osucedarcity@gmail.com, or contact Sara Penny at 586-2286.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bringing the Orchestra into Area Homes through Baby Ears Project

OSU board members Allen Butt, Laura Lee, Laurel Dodgion, June Thorley, Xun Sun and Harold Shirley (far right) accept the Baby Ears sponsorship check from Dr. Robert Dowse (second from right).

Orchestra Project is Music to Baby’s Ears

            The Orchestra of Southern Utah’s “Baby Ears Project” at Valley View Medical Center continues, thanks to the sponsorship of Dr. Rob Dowse and Premier Pediatrics in Cedar City.

            The Baby Ears project was created to bring music to children at an early age, during those important years of cognitive development. “We love music in our home,” stated Cedar City mom Jennilyn Rock.    “It helps their creativity, confidence, and expression of self.”

            Research indicates that music, especially classical music, can affect the way an infant develops.  Music is one of the few activities that engage both the right and left hemispheres of the brain. It helps the brain more easily organize input.  It can reduce stress, decrease heart rate, and increase oxygen saturation in preterm infants.  Music also teaches children to how recognize emotion in sound and become of the emotions of those around them.

            Music in general also helps families as a whole. “My kids and I listen to all kinds from children's, to classical, to the Beatles, and much more. It has become a great way for us to come together as a family,” commented Rock.  “I look forward to taking them to more local concerts in the future and hope they will want to eventually participate.” 

The “Baby Ears Project” began in 2009.  Since the project’s birth, more than 3495 CDs have been presented to parents and their babies at Valley View Medical Center in Cedar City.  The orchestra musicians also want to encourage children to learn to play instruments.

The Orchestra of Southern Utah is pleased to provide Baby Ears CDs to the mothers at Valley View Medical Center and would like to thank Dr. Robert Dowse and Premier Pediatrics for their continued support of the Baby Ears Project.  For more information on the Baby Ears Project, please visit www.orchestraofsouthernutah.org.

 (article by Laurel Dodgion, OSU Publicity Director)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Update on 2013-2014 Season

Cinema Classics  2013-2014 Concert Season
(Music in the Movies and with the Movies)
OSU Rehearsals start Thursday, Sept. 5 at Heritage Center

Concerts at the Heritage Center, 7:30  pm., 105 North 100 East, Cedar City, Utah  

Oct. 3, Soundtrack of Our Lives
Overture to the Cowboys by John Williams with full symphony orchestra plus choirs celebrating movie music.   (Master Singers, In Jubilo, school and/or SUU choirs, as well as full orchestra selection, Jackie Jackson coordinator)

Nov. 9,  "Legends Never Die"
Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner (200th birthday year)
Prelude from Lohengrin, Act 3 by Wagner
Percussion concerto written by Keith Bradshaw with Lynn Vartan as soloist
Adagio for Strings by Barber
Overture to Die Meistersinger by Wagner

Dec. 8 and 9, 73rd Messiah "Listen to My Heart"  Sunday, Dec. 8 and Monday, Dec. 9
Dress rehearsal Saturday, Dec. 7 at 9 a.m.

Rehearsals resume Thursday, Jan. 9

Feb. 15,  Jubilee "Where Dreams are Born"    Family Matinée
(portion of Flickers, vintage silent films with classical music)
with music at 2 p.m., followed by hands on art and science activities for all ages.

Feb. 20,   Flickers "To the Stars"   dress rehearsal Feb. 19
Flickers - Classical music set to vintage silent movies, one of Jerry Waddell’s newer products.
More details on his website at
A Night on Bald Mountain, Mussorgsky
Danse Macabre, Saint-Saens
Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, 1 through 4, Grieg
Finlandia, Sibelius
Firebird Suite: Infernal Dance and Finale, Stravinsky

April 17,  R. L. Halversen Young Artists:  "The Eyes of Youth"
Dress rehearsal April 16
3 to 4 soloists
Les Preludes by Liszt

17th Annual Recitals at St. Jude's Episcopal Church, 70 North 200 West, Cedar City, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 3   "From Baroque to Broadway" under the direction of Jackie Jackson
Sept. 10  "All That Jazz" 
Sept. 17 "Musical Stories"
Sept. 24 "Around the World in 80 Minutes"
Community musicians and advanced students invited to perform.  To sign up contact Sara Penny Email at osucedarcity@gmail.com or
Phone 435-586-2286

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Finale Concert and Reception

Thanks to all involved in making this a memorable season.  Great music, wonderful soloists, and dedicated musicians make the Orchestra of Southern Utah a valuable asset to our area.  The support team is incredible and we appreciate everyone involved from the Board and staff members to all the selfless volunteers.  Many thanks to Peter and Diane Pasternak for hosting the reception. 
OSU Conductor Xun Sun, Hillary Dalton, Kristen Nielson, Michael Wager, Rylee Dalton, and OSU President Harold Shirley prepare for the concert.

OSU Assistant Conductor Gerald Rheault and Guest Conductor Zheng Guo before the concert.

Mikael Thatcher provided lobby music before the concert.
Peter Pasternak prepares for a wonderful after concert reception.
Diane Pasternak gets ready for the hungry musicians, donors, and patrons.

A group from Beaver came to enjoy the concert.

Marci Staudte and Kim Montgomery were among many reception volunteers.  Thanks to all.

Jessi Kate and Madilynn Riley help  distribute reception ice cream treats.

Soloist Kristen Nielson with her sister Julie Davis after the concert.

Laurel Dodgion, Chelsea Gardner,  and some of our upcoming young musicians.

More photos courtesy of the Dalton family:

Friday, April 19, 2013

Southern Utah’s Own Tanglewood

By Bryce Christensen

A half century ago, the great American composer Aaron Copland recognized in Tanglewood and the music festival it hosts a critically important venue where “talented young musicians . . . gather.”  When such young musicians come together in such a setting, Copland believed, “their very presence . . . [can] act as a stimulus” to great music.  As the audience who gathered at the Heritage Center on April 18th can attest, the Orchestra of Southern Utah’s Roy L. Halversen Young Artist Concert has developed into a Tanglewood-like opportunity for promising young musicians in this area.  Named for an outstanding teacher whose decades of selfless service inspired hundreds of aspiring young musicians at Southern Utah University and in the surrounding community, the Halversen Concert—like Tanglewood and its festival—gives rising young stars a chance to showcase and develop their talents.  Without question, the four young guest soloists and the young guest conductor who performed at this year’s Halversen concert created a potent stimulus to musical excellence.

During the evening’s first number—Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2— the stimulus of young talent was most visible in on the conductor’s podium, where the twenty-two-year-old guest conductor Zheng Guo showed how remarkably well a young hand can wield the baton in eliciting a masterful performance of a difficult classical piece.  From the stirring opening trumpet notes to the kinetic conclusion of this richly-textured piece, Guo was in complete command, handling the quieter, reflective passages with tender sensitivity, but rendering Liszt’s kinetic eruptions with energy and passion.   Under Guo’s poised direction, OSU musicians melded their gifts in an irresistible interplay of winds, brass, strings, and percussion.  Particularly notable in this interplay were the memorable solos by trumpeter Adam Lambert, trombonist Michelle Lambert, clarinetist Sarah Solberg, and violinist LuAnne Brown—solos that stood out like shining gems embedded in an arabesque work of jewelry. Although not a soloist, OSU’s conductor and director Xun Sun did his part in this selection and in the evening’s final number by taking a seat in the violin section, as a hand that normally swings the baton skillfully applied a bowstring under the direction of a talented young guest.

For the second number, Summer by Vivaldi, Sun took his accustomed place on the conductor’s podium, where he again manifested the consummate musicianship that has now captivated Cedar City listeners for a decade.  But during this enchanting number, the limelight belonged not to Sun but to violinist Kristen Nielsen, one of four young soloists selected for this year’s Halversen’s Concert through competitive auditions.  Playing with the aplomb and self-possession of a seasoned virtuoso, Nielsen segued effortlessly from the languid opening notes of this Vivaldi masterpiece to the frenetic tempestuousness of the stormy later passages.  Though Nielsen unfolded much of her solo work against the broad backdrop of a tapestry spun out by the entire orchestra, she played some especially beautiful passages in tightly choreographed back-and-forth duets with her sister, Julie Davis, playing the cello.

In the concert’s third number the aria “Quando m’ en vo’” [“Musetta’s Waltz”] from Puccini’s La Bohème, the spotlight shifted to soprano Rylee Dalton.  From the moment she first opened her mouth, Dalton poured forth a stream of pure gold.  With impressive vocal gifts, Dalton made the famous aria luminous with the irrepressible desires of a beautiful and flirtatious woman, provoking the attention of all, but seeking the devotion of one.  Dalton displayed the marvelous richness of her voice to particularly good effect in the soaring conclusion of this number, as she effortlessly ascended her seemingly unbounded range.

The mood shifted markedly when cellist Michael Wager took over as soloist for the First Movement of Elgar’s Cello Concerto, a melancholy and brooding number.  With nuanced deftness of expression, Wager conveyed this dark composition’s deeply moving strain of pathos, a pathos born of Elgar’s deep distress over the carnage of World War I.  His performance poignantly complemented by the orchestra, Wager carried listeners from a subdued and reflective grief to a sense of mourning mounting to surprisingly majestic dignity.

The shadows of elegy gave way to the brilliance of celebration in Sibelius’ technically demanding Violin Concerto, as violinist Hillary Dalton took the stage as the last of the evening featured youth soloists.  Listeners could only marvel at the way Dalton performed the most daunting passages—passages requiring rapid movement through complex phrasings—not only with flawless technique but also with evident relish.  This was clearly a musician who positively enjoyed meeting musical challenges!   Though Dalton’s success in meeting such challenges was most obvious in the numerous feverishly dynamic sections of this number, her success was also evident in the more muted and pensive sections, sections Dalton rendered with liquid delicacy.

Though the parade of the Halversen soloists ended with the Intermission, the evening’s final number-- The Moldau by Smetana—reminded listeners that OSU need not bring in a young guest conductor from China to find a strikingly-gifted musician to take the podium whenever Master Sun wishes to employ his abilities in the violin section.  OSU Assistant Conductor Gerald Rheault indeed handled the baton for this last number with singular mastery, leading the orchestra in an artfully modulated performance of a many-hued musical evocation of the heart-stirring beauties of central Europe.  Named for a river that cuts through what was once Czechoslovakia, this Romantic treasure sparkles again and again as it transports listeners from Bavarian springs where the river originates, through valleys where it swells in volume and strength, and finally broadens into regal breadth on the plains near Prague.  Thanks to the interpretive deftness evinced by Rheault and the OSU musicians under his direction, listeners felt the natural growth of a brook augmented by tributaries, the turbulent cascades of a river fighting its way through a rocky gorge, the placid serenity of a mature river.  They also felt the echoes of human activities along the swelling river’s banks—the clamorous excitement of a hunt, the communal joy of a wedding, the proud glories of an aristocrat’s castle. 

As the emphatic last note of the Smetana number died away, listeners realized that another wonderful concert, another wonderful concert season, had ended.  But because of the way the Halversen concert—Southern Utah’s own little evocation of Tanglewood---fosters youthful talent, these listeners had every reason to hope that excellent music will continue to be a culturally enriching part of Cedar City for decades to come!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Concerto Previews for Thursday, April 18, 2013 Concert

Elgar Cello Concerto:  
Some were inquiring about the Elgar Cello Concerto at rehearsal and what it "meant."

During my interview with World Class Cellist Zuill Bailey a few months ago (on his new CD of the Elgar Concerto) he related to me the story behind this important concerto.

1.  First the entire concerto is a lamentation for all mankind following WWI.  Elgar saw no real hope for the future of mankind.  We hear this in the 1st movement as it relates sadness of humanity and in the middle of the movement, you can hear Elgar's remembrance of happier days in his childhood before tragedy (heard in the brass) strikes again and the movement ends in melancholy.

2.  Also 2 personal very tragic events occurred in his life as well.  First Elgar's mother passed away and then a few months later his sister (who he was extremely close to) passed away as well.

Thus Elgar was under a VERY "black cloud" when he wrote this cello concerto.

Ken Hedgecock, Producer of Classical Music Discoveries and Trombonist in OSU

To preview the concerti for the April 18 Concert:

Jacqueline du Pre's version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUgdbqt2ON0

Musetta's Waltz from La Boheme by Puccini

Summer from The Seasons by Vivaldi

Sibelius Violin Concerto
Third movement (Allegro ma non tanto) that starts at 25:30   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsbrRAgv1b4

Previews for the Liszt and Smetana on earlier blog entries.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Exploring Hungarian Music on April 18, 2013

Halversen Program Notes
by Robert Gordon
Franz Liszt, Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. Zheng Guo, Guest Conductor
The Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Franz Liszt (1811-1866) is one of the more familiar works in the concert repertoire. It has long been a showcase for pianists, of course, and tonight’s orchestrated version will be instantly recognizable to even the more infrequent concert goer.
Liszt himself was a world renowned pianist, and his compositions for piano were in great demand during his lifetime and have been ever since. But he might have been slightly nonplussed had he been able to foresee how much the popularity of this particular piece in recent years has rested on its use as film music, and especially as background music for cartoons. But if the listener can avoid conjuring up visions of Bugs Bunny or Tom and Jerry, the music will be found to be very enjoyable and worthwhile.
Preview the music on  YouTube:

Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Liszt:  Orchestra version:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN92591mDaE
Victor Borge has fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyArTMtgT1w  start at 3:07 for when he gets to the piano.
Lang, Lang  piano solo version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-EGKpbIBuw
Then there's Bugs Bunny's version complete with carrots:
Concert on Thursday, April 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the Heritage Center in Cedar City. 
More information on next blog entry or www.orchestraofsouthernutah.org
Photo by Bob Sharak looking down at Danube River in Budapest.

Photo by Bob Sharak

Parliament Building from Danube River

Photos of Budapest by Des and Sara Penny, except as noted above.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Exciting Music and Talented Young Soloists

     Exciting music and talented young performers promise a great finale to the Orchestra of Southern Utah season. Hillary Dalton, Rylee Dalton, Kristen Nielson and Michael Wager have been selected through competitive audition to perform with OSU at the R.L. Halversen Young Artist Concert.  The concert is held Thursday, April 18 at 7:30 pm in the Cedar City Heritage Center, located at 105 North 100 East.
     OSU Conductor and Music Director Xun Sun conducts the Orchestra and young soloists for this special event, which features two sisters, a mother-to-be, and a young man who taught himself to read music.  The concert also includes performances by the Orchestra conducted by OSU Assistant Conductor Gerald Rheault and guest conductor Zheng Guo.
     Returning Young Artist Hillary performs the Sibelius Violin Concerto finale - she was featured as a Young Artist during the 2010 Halversen concert.  Hillary also performed as a soloist with the Southwest Symphony in the Salute to Youth Concert 2009.  She has been concertmaster and member of several youth orchestras including All-State, BYU Summerfest, Zion Youth Symphony, Red Cliffs Chamber and St. George Youth Orchestras, and has received top honors in many competitions and festivals.
     Hillary’s 14-year old sister Rylee sings La Boheme aria “Quando Me’n Vo” by Puccini. Singing has always been a major part of Rylee's life and she recently discovered her true passion—opera. Rylee has been awarded superior ratings in competition and a scholarship from the Southern Utah Performing Arts Festival. She has performed at many venues including Tuacahn Summer Arts Institute, Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theater, Recitals and Care Centers.
     Kristen plays Summer by Vivaldi.  Kristen began her musical undertaking with the violin when she was 6 years old. At age 8 she added the piano, and at age 14 she added the viola to her musical repertoire. Kristen attended the Intermountain Suzuki Strings, learning from world renowned music artists and teachers. She joined OSU in high school and has continued with the Orchestra through her recent graduation from SUU.  Kristen is happily married to her husband Wade and looking forward to the birth of her first child.
     Michael performs Elgar’s Cello Concerto, first movement.  Michael started teaching himself to read music at age seven, and soon thereafter began taking piano lessons. Later, he learned to play the violin, and in 2001, he began studying the cello. He is a senior at SUU, majoring in Music Performance. He has been a member of OSU since 2008, and has also performed onstage with the Utah Symphony, David Archuleta, and Kurt Bestor. He has been married to his beautiful wife, Violet, since 2011.
     Gerald Rheault directs the Orchestra in The Moldau (from Má Vlast) by Bedřich Smetana.  Smetana composed his popular Tone Poem Má Vlast (“My Fatherland”) in honor of his homeland Czechoslovakia.  The second segment, The Moldau, depicts an imaginary voyage down the river Moldau.
     OSU also performs Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody #2, Liszt’s most famous rhapsody of his 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies set, with guest conductor Zheng Guo of China directing.
     Major sponsors for this concert are the Dixie and Anne Leavitt Foundation through the Rotary Club and the Sterling and Shelli Gardner Foundation.  “Financial support from these foundations make it possible for us to keep ticket prices lower as well as perform in our beautiful Heritage Center.  We appreciate their support,” said Sara Penny, OSU Manager.
      The Halversen Young Artist Concert is held Thursday, April 18 at 7:30 pm.  Doors open at 6:45 with lobby music by pianist Mikael Thatcher.  Tickets may be purchased for $10 for adults, $5 for students (ages six and up), $30 for groups of six.  Tickets are available at the Cedar City Heritage Center Box Office by calling 435-865-2882 or online at http://www.heritagectr.org/. Purchasing tickets in advance is recommended.  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.
Poster Design by Rollan Fell, The Print Shoppe