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.

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