by Tanisa Crosby
It is through our youth that music lives; the future rests upon their shoulders. This fact
came to life at The Orchestra of Southern Utah’s “The Eyes of Youth” concert where many of
Cedar City’s talented youth were featured and recognized. It was a night to remember as each
soloist took the stage. Not only were soloists recognized, but assistant conductors Dr. Adam
Lambert and Carylee Zwang were able to be featured as well as they took turns conducting the
first four numbers in the program.
The first to take to the stage was Ben Bradshaw playing W. A. Mozart’s Bassoon
Concerto in B Flat Major, KV 191. He played the first movement entitled Allegro. Mozart was
a brilliant composer who showed the world a unique side of the bassoon in his Bassoon
Concerto. The orchestra started the piece, striking up a unique conversation between the
bassoon and the strings. However, it was soon that the bassoon commanded total attention in his
solo away from the sound of the strings. As Ben played through his cadenza, which show cased
the beautiful sound of the instrument, everyone listened with bated breath. Right before the
orchestra was cued back in, a long trill on the bassoon was played, starting slowly and then
picking intensity and speed. The orchestra then finished the song with a flourish, signally a great
start to the concert.
The next song was a Viola Concerto in D Major, Op. 1: III. Rondeau by Carl Stamitz.
This solo was performed by Miriam Wagstaff. The piece she performed was one that bridged a
gap between Baroque and Classical music and it was easy to tell why. As soon as Miriam began
to play, there was a distinct lively dialogue between the viola and the rest of her fellow strings
and wind players. The sound she produced on her instrument was bright and lively, as she
played her part well, creating lovely chords. It was hard not to want to linger on every note she
produced during her solo parts, where she showed just how beautiful the viola could sound. She
played with a masterful touch, leaving the audience eager for more.
Liahona Axelson took to the stage next accompanied with her Euphonium to play a piece
by Alexander Goedicke entitled Concert Etude in G Minor, Op. 44. The minute the song began,
it was easy to tell that the tone of the concert had changed as a fiery passion was brought into the
Heritage. Even Liahona’s soft notes captured everyone’s attention as this mature sound was
produced. There was a fun section of the song that introduced a bit of double tonguing action.
The sound from the instrument filled the room. Throughout the piece, the rich velvety sounds
produced left people speechless. As the last notes were played, ringing through the Heritage, it
brought a warm applause to a well performed piece.
The night wasn’t even close to finished as a singer, Lindsey Lopez, took to the stage to
sing Habanera from Carmen by Georges Bizet. The melody was light and playful to accompany
the singer, who sang her notes effortlessly. The orchestra’s sound added to her passionate
singing, bringing to light the incredible dynamic contrasts, encouraging the singer onward
through the song. Lively applause arose after the final high note was sung and the orchestra
ended with an exciting final two chords.
After a brief intermission, the music continued with an original composition by Alex
Byers entitled The Lord is My Shepherd. It featured Kendra Leavitt on the harp and Samantha
Smith as a soprano soloist. The song was conducted by director Xun Sun. In the program
notes, Alex Byers explained that the song “serves as both a motivic focal point and the
pivotal ‘release’ moment in a textual, tensional, and tonal sense… I sought to express my
personal feelings about the complete freedom from pain and sorrow that I believe is made
possible to man through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ”. And indeed, the song
did just that. As Samantha sang and the Kendra strummed away on the harp, a complete
tranquility fell over the crowd. As the song progressed to overcoming trials and hardships, the
orchestra grew in volume and strength, giving courage to all those who were listening. It then
led back to a sweet gentleness as Samantha sang “and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever”. After the song finished, Alex Byers took to the stage to warm, heartfelt applause from
a touched audience.
After so many wonderful songs that were played, it was time for the orchestra to take the
spotlight as they played Les Preludes by Franz Liszt. They dedicated their performance to Sara
Penny for all of the work she had done for the orchestra as The Orchestra of Southern Utah's
Manager. As soon as the song began with plucked notes from the strings, the attention was
caught. In the last song of the evening, the orchestra captured, in essence, youth. It
encompassed a youthful journey with the high notes from the flutes, the fanfare of the brass
instruments such as the trumpets and horns, to the beauty of the strings melodic material and
lively runs. From young players to the young at heart, the last number touched not only the
musicians but also those in the audience, reminding everyone that the journey was not reaching
an end but rather a beginning. As the orchestra finished playing Les Preludes and they received
a standing ovation, the soloists and composer took the stage for one final bow all together.