Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Harold Shirley and Suzanne Tegland Honored at Utah Philanthropy Day

Present Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson with former Mayor Harold Shirley.

Diane and Harold Shirley with Dialea Shirley Adams and Eric Adams before the presentations
Suzanne Tegland was honored with Heart and Hands Award.

Thanks to the Cedar City people who came to the awards banquet.

Before the banquet the staff was unveiling their huge gingerbread house at Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake.

OSU President Harold Shirley receiving the Public Service Award.
Suzanne Tegland coming forward for her volunteerism award

Last of the fall flowers outside

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Symphonic Sorcery

By Bryce Christensen
“Music acts like a magic key,” remarked Maria von Trapp, “to which the most tightly closed heart opens.”   The magical heart-opening power of music manifested itself in marvelous ways at Cedar City’s Heritage Center the night of November 9th, as the Orchestra of Southern Utah (OSU) welcomed a large Chorale to perform a concert on the theme of “The Magic of Mozart.”  Recently named as the 2017 recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Public Service Award, OSU President articulated the theme of the evening in opening remarks in which he promised the exceptionally large audience a program alive with the “sorcery of sound,” albeit a sorcery wrought through the conductor’s baton rather than the wizard’s wand.

From the very first number, the audience indeed felt that beneficent sorcery.  With the inspiring passion that has characterized his directing style ever since his appointment as OSU’s Music Director and Conductor in 2003, Xun Sun opened the evening with Mozart’s “Overture to The Marriage of Figaro.”  A vibrant number that showcased the entire orchestra’s polished talents, this Mozart masterpiece shone with particular luster because of deft short solos by bassoonist Julie Kluber, clarinetist Sarah Solberg, oboist Patrice Ramsey, and flutist Ariel Rhodes.  Kluber’s mellow warmth perfectly complemented Solberg’s brighter and more incisive notes.  And the musical palette grew even more complete with the penetrating clarity flowing through Ramsey’s instrument and the silvery filigree provided by Rhodes. 

Much of the puckishly mischievous magic emanating from the evening’s second number—“Non so piu cosa son,” from Act 1 of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro—came through the impish but beguiling voice of mezzo soprano Lindsey Lopez.  Singing in the persona of a libidinous and irresponsible teenage boy,  Lopez perfectly conveyed the adolescent petulance of this naughty young rogue, her voice (and gestures) charming an audience amused by the peevish perplexity of a hormone-driven young male somehow surprised that his reckless behavior keeps landing him in trouble.

The magic of the evening’s third number—Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra in G Major­—modulated from that of comic playfulness to symphonic brilliance.  And though the orchestra proved itself more than equal to the challenge of conjuring magic through this masterful composition, the enchantress casting the truly irresistible spell was flute soloist Adrienne Tedjamulia Read.  Through her flawlessly executed trills and her sparkling rapid scales, the sound from her instrument so bewitched the audience that those listening gladly surrendered to its dazzling presence as its coruscating luminosity darted here and there like a fugitive sunbeam. 

After intermission, the orchestra welcomed to the stage an impressive composite Chorale of 180 voices, prepared for the evening by OSU Chorale Director Jackie Riddle-Jackson.  This wonderfully large ensemble of vocal talent brought together singers from Canyon View High School’s A Cappella Choir (directed by Alex Byers), Southern Utah University’s Opus Choir (directed by Krystal McCoy), In Jubilo Women’s Choir (directed by Jackie Riddle-Jackson), and the OSU Chorale.  As these talented voices joined with the OSU instrumentalists to perform Mozart’s Requiem in D minor, they delivered a work akin to magic in that it transcended rational understanding, surely a work exercising the heart-opening power van Trapp identifies as a magical attribute of music.  Still, the label magic­ does not truly apply to this Mozart meisterwerk, a composition too powerful, too profound, ultimately too sacred and holy to bear that label. 

Masterfully directing this soul-stirring number was guest conductor Dr. Ryan Murphy, associate director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a choir intimately familiar with sacred and holy music.  A commanding presence on the podium, Murphy wove choir and orchestra into a majestic musical tapestry, vocalists and instrumentalists in flawless harmony both in the intense passages conveying the fearful wrath of an offended God and the softer measures suggestive of the humble pleading of devout penitents.  Every voice, every instrumentalist deserves praise for this unforgettable musical outpouring. 

But five soloists truly shone on this night of exceptional music: In dark and taut solo measures, Michelle Lambert made her trombone a voice of haunting poignancy.  And what Lambert did with her artistically crafted brass tube, soloist Alex Byers did with his own powerful vocal cords, his deep-toned bass voice plumbing fathomless profundities.  Likewise moving was tenor Lawrence Johnson, his rich solos redolent with plangent pathos.  Listeners had further reasons to rejoice when the spotlight shifted to alto Taliah Byers, whose solos radiated the supernal hopes that sustain faith.  Completing the complement of outstanding vocal soloists, Terri Metcalf-Peterson transported listeners above the empyrean, into the realm of the angels, on her soaring soprano voice.

On a night dedicated to “The Magic of Mozart,” concert-goers relished astonishing musical magic—and more than magic.  In a concert that ranged from humorous light opera to somber religious devotion, OSU and the Chorale achieved excellence that would make a city of half a million swell with pride.  Residents of Cedar City can only marvel—and give thanks—for such incomprehensible musical wealth.  All of the musicians on the stage deserved the prolonged standing ovation the audience gave on this Thursday night.  Also meriting applause were the evening’s sponsors: In Jubilo and the George S. and Delores DorĂ© Eccles Foundation.   These sponsors could not have given the community more if they had found a Philosopher’s Stone. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Mozart Concert Photos and Response

Photo from balcony by Seegmiller family.

Harold Shirley, OSU President, introduces the music.

Thanks to Heritage Center ushers and staff

OSU Manager Emily Hepworth and her friend Jennifer Maxwell provided pre-concert lobby music.

Teresa Redd, rehearsal and concert keyboard

Laura Bird backstage warming up by concert roses.

Julie Kluber and Shanan Arslanian warming up before the concert.

Ellie Seegmiller is one of our newest OSU musicians, warming up on viola.
OSU Music Director Xun Sun directing the "Overture to Marriage of Figaro"
Dr. Xun Sun

Lindsey Lopez, mezzo-soprano soloist

Adrienne Tedjamulia Read, flute soloist
Dr. Ryan Murphy, guest director for Requiem

Soloists: Terri Metcalf-Peterson, Taliah Byers, Lawrence Johnson, and Alex Byers

Recognizing Jackie Riddle-Jackson at the end of the concert.
Thanks to everyone involved in the massive undertaking.  We appreciate all of you.  
CDs and DVDs available:  

A couple of the written responses:

Hello Alex and Chorale leaders,
Last night's performance of the Requiem was spectacular!  It was one of the best choral performances I have ever heard.  The acoustics were great, the singers knew their stuff.  The performance was expressive, compelling and technically perfect, as far as I could tell.  And the orchestra did it's part well.

Earlier I had hoped to sing with you but I just couldn't make the rehearsals.  Only my son Devon in Acapella Choir represented our family.  However in a way I'm glad because I got to sit back and hear it.  

The singing was full of that beautiful chiaroscuro ringing sound, great balance powerful dynamics.  Great expressiveness.  I cannot think of one aspect of the singing that could have been better.  The soloists were also amazing.  And even when singing together the sound of harmony was sweet.  That can be hard to do with soloists singing in full voice.  Alex, since I know you personally, let me say that even though I have heard you sing before, you surprised me by the great bass resonance and masterful quality of your performance.  

I have never written a gushing letter like this before, but I just thought you deserved to know my experience in the audience.  This performance absolutely exceeded my expectations.  The announcer was right that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  For me it was, and I am very glad I didn't miss it!

Thank you for all of your hard work that it took to make it happen!  Please pass my comments on to Jackie and the others who were so vital to last night's performance of Mozart's Requiem.
 Kind regards,
Dave Thomas

Dear All,
What a wonderful past few days, and so transformative for both choir and orchestra!!!
It has been a night of reflection and a morning of thought.
So many people have texted and emailed their thoughts of this venture, all have been positive, all have been encouraging and many have wondered how we were able to bring in someone like Ryan Murphy.

Because of so many who have worked to make this happen, it was successful and it was fun, because Ryan Murphy is who he is, because he is generous and willing to work with everyone it helped to create an environment of learning and confidence for all. His preparation was astounding we felt that he knew what he wanted and where he was taking us, that was a learning lesson for me especially. The choir and orchestra responded and grew in a few short days more than was truly imaginable, it was successful.

 Emily made so many efforts to create space for us to rehearse in and to insure that both choir and orchestra were well taken care of.  Sara worked to have advertising that met the needs of what it takes to advertise an event in Cedar City,
Rollan was tireless in creating posters and programs even though the process was trying because we were so demanding:). Sheri, Judy and Harold helped to make sure that any need from food to gift baskets and so much more like scores and details were all taken care of. Jason of the Heritage and his staff are true professionals and they help us to shine, even when we aren't perfect.

Teresa Redd worked tirelessly to play very difficult music, she was able to see this process through and to keep her wits about her under some personal difficult family challenges.
Melissa and Suzanne stepped in and were there for everything that is needed, they are minutemen (women) that I can call on to take care of things that would seem impossible in the moment, like seating and things that others cannot see, they do it with grace and tact, those are truly great qualities to have.

It took the generosity of the other conductors, Xun Krystal and Alex to work through difficult passages and unfamiliar text and tempos that are unrelenting and pushy, not to mention just plain hard.

And again, Ryan! wow! it would not have been a possibility if you had not been willing to sacrifice time, work and family and then the unknowing of what we would be and where we would have to go to create some great music, we are truly blessed by your ability and preparation and willingness.

My husband in his text to me last night wrote the following:
"It clearly took a lot of work for both the orchestra and the choir!  Neither one has ever done that piece and will not likely do it again!  The Mozart Requiem has an ethereal quality to it that transcends the players performance!  Terri's very bright and pure pitch reflected that as much as anything against the backdrop of that choir, who being made up of students and townspeople, made heaven sing!  It isn't Bach's B minor, and it doesn't have tone themes of Brahms or the dramatic flare of Verdi, but it does have the very sobering introspection of a young talented artist dying before his time and the genius of turning music into the solace of that last great mystery no man but one has solved!"

My sincere and deep appreciation to all of you for all you have done to create something that will be a great memory for so many, and not only a memory but a growing experience that we could not have gotten any other way.

Jackie Riddle-Jackson