Sunday, February 25, 2018

World Wonders Concert Photos

From our concertmaster, Heather Wilhelm:

I enjoy playing with the Orchestra of Southern Utah so much! I'm happy to have the opportunity to learn more about music and performing, expand my repertoire, and improve my violin playing skills. I love that I can give something to my community as we perform and seek opportunities to involve community members. It has been interesting to learn more about how a group like ours runs, from where funding comes from to how repertoire is chosen. But perhaps one of my favorite things about it is the people. It's amazing how music brings us together, and how it gives us an opportunity to get to know each other as we work to make music together. While it can certainly be stressful for me trying to prepare music when my practice time is very limited, the sense of fulfillment it gives me is worth it!

Photos from OSU Musicians and their families: 

Poetry readers from Canyon View High at dress rehearsal
Poetry readers at the end of the concert.

OSU President Harold Shirley with Diane Shirley and OSU Manager Emily Hepworth before the concert.

Red Rock Singers gathering before the concert downstairs
Singers in the lobby organized by Jackie Riddle-Jackson with pianist Jana Dettamanti

Larry Life and Steve Swift record the OSU concerts.

Southern Utah String Quartet warming up before the concert.

Violins performing at concert.
Final bows with Conductor Carylee Zwang recognizing the musicians.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Traveling the World Through Music—Sans Passport

Concert Review by Bryce Christensen

Might the Orchestra of Southern Utah might be accused of false advertising in its announcement that its concert on the Theme “World Wonders” would take place in Cedar City’s Heritage Center on February 22nd, 2018? Perhaps. For the hundreds who gathered for this marvelous concert soon found themselves not in Southern Utah but rather in Australia’s Barrier Reef waters, in Egypt, in India, in China, in Brazil, and in England. And they found themselves visiting these far-away places in long-ago eras. How did listeners leave 21st-century Utah behind and reach such distant and exotic regions and times? Music critic Craig Wright partly explains this marvel when commenting on what can happen to those who listen to great classical music: “The power of . . . this music will transport you. You will hear new patterns and combinations that will transport you to far-off places.” As those who gathered at the Heritage Center experienced the power of new musical patterns and combinations to transport them, the concert hall that they had supposed was their destination as they drove to 105 North 100 East in Cedar City became instead a port of departure for exciting and wonderful far-off places. The rest of the explanation for the unexpected spatiotemporal migration of the concert came in the welcoming words of OSU President Harold Shirley, who explained to the gathered audience that the evening’s music would convey listeners not only to distant places but also to long-ago times, taking them to ancient Egypt, imperial Rome, and medieval Europe. Who knew that the Heritage Center could double as both an airport terminal and a time machine?

And the travels in space and time began with the evening’s very first number: Douglas Wagner’s Ancient Echoes of Time, a number so richly suggestive of the grandeur and majesty of Imperial Rome that the images of the Colosseum projected onto screens on either side of the stage provided the perfect visual complement. As the presiding artistic force for the evening’s astounding forays, conductor Carylee Zwang evinced impressive confidence and poise from the evening’s first notes, as she drew from the orchestra perfectly modulated and nuanced renditions of music evoking a diverse range of places and eras.

Via the superb musicianship of both the conductor and the orchestra, the members of audience next found themselves not in ancient Rome but rather in 17th-century India, as imposing images of the Taj Mahal took the eyes to the same place and time conjured by the measures of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Song of India, measures sublimely mysterious and enigmatic.

Proving yet again that a conductor commands as much magic as any wizard, Zwang relocated the entire concert hall from pre-modern India to ancient China with just one wave of her baton as the orchestra next devoted its collective musical artistry to Jiangning Fu’s Floating Clouds and Flowing Water, a number originally premiered in China by OSU’s Music Director Xun Sun. A composition beguilingly fusing interludes of pastoral tranquility with passages alive with a spritely frolicsomeness, this music conveyed something of the Taoist Ying and Yang of the Middle Kingdom, long protected by the Great Wall, which appeared in images projected on the Concert Hall screens. Playing noteworthy solos in this laudably rendered number were Kendra Leavitt on the harp, Virginia Stitt on the English horn, and Heather Wilhelm on the violin.

Zwang and the orchestra left the stage for next two numbers, but the theme of musical travel through space and time persisted. Playing the first of these numbers, the Southern Utah String Quartet rendered a John Reed arrangement of an anonymous 16th-century British melody that casts the melodic strains of “Scarborough Fair” into Canticle style. Hauntingly plangent, this number echoed in the heart like an elegiac chant lamenting an age now forever lost, an age well symbolized by the images of Stonehenge projected during this selection. The members of the Quartet—violinists Lindsay Szczesny and Suzanne Stewart and cellist Leah Brown and violist Sara Penny—well deserved the appreciative applause from an audience genuinely moved by their imaginative visit to early England.

The Red Rock Singers replaced the Southern Utah String Quartet as the guest ensemble next transporting listeners to realms surprisingly distant from 21st-century Cedar City. Under the direction of Steve Meredith and accompanied by Lydia Feild and Tracey Bradshaw, the Singers relocated the audience into the medieval world of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, a cantata based on medieval European poetry celebrating themes such as the fickleness of Fortune, the joys of Spring, and the pleasures of dancing with a beloved. From opening notes that strain against all earthly restraint, then seguing into measures of tense and impulsive movement, this number overflows with energy that has been choreographed into apt dances. Indeed, this performance of an exciting excerpt of the vocal element of the cantata served in part as an invitation to the audience to see the full dance-and-song version at Southern Utah University’s Randall Theater, running February 28th through March 5th.

After the intermission, with the orchestra back on the stage and Zwang back on the podium, wonderful symphonic music once again carried listeners about the earth and through the epochs. With the propulsive energy of Villa-Lobos’ Jumping Bean, the audience caught a harmonic ride to South America, while they contemplated projected images of the towering statue of Christ the Redeemer rising above a modern Rio de Janeiro, contrasted with the image of the ruins of Machu Picchu preserving a trace of ancient grandeur. Reaching South America means opening breathtakingly broad vistas.
In the orchestra’s penultimate number, listeners left land behind and travelled over the sea, projected images of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef providing the visual counterpart to the variegated textures of the third movement of Debussy’s La Mer, a movement brimming with oceanic dynamism, now pacific and serene, now ominous and threatening. Tense from its opening notes, this movement concludes with a fierce squall, dissolving all resistance.

The evening’s final composition, Schwartz’s Prince of Egypt carried listeners to ancient Egypt, beholding the massive pyramids projected on the screens but also thrilling to the hope that inspired the Israelites let out of bondage by the prophet Moses. Conveying the passions, the heartache, ultimately the faith of this beleaguered people and their heroic prophet, the orchestra brought listeners right to the very edge of a Promised Land, glimpsed as a visionary possibility. With praiseworthy solos coming from violinist Heather Wilhelm, flautist Tanisa Crosby, French hornist Pete Atkins, bassoonist Julie Kluber, and clarinetist Sarah Solberg, the orchestra’s splendid performance of this popular composition no doubt had more than a few listeners quite certain that, yes, “There can be miracles when you believe.”

Zwang and the instrumentalists under her direction all deserve praise for their achievement in a concert that truly defied the constraints of both geography and chronology. The orchestra once again evinced musicianship of the first order. Steve Swift and Sam Shakespeare also merit favorable mention for the projected visual images which added colorful splendor to accompany the superlative music.

In adding poetry readings interspersed throughout evening’s concert, OSU erased a boundary separating musical from literary art. On an evening when music was smashing geographic and temporal limits, listeners may not have marveled that the boundary between literature and music also fell. To be sure, this experiment may need some refining before repeating. But the imaginative promise of fusing poetry with music did emerge clearly when the spare, dark verse of The Exeter Book ‘s “The Ruin” fittingly introduced the String Quartet’s pungent melancholy and again when Keats’ potent marine imagery from “On the Sea” provided an organic segue into Debussy’s sea-themed composition.
In all of its modes and operations, the evening’s globe-straddling, millennia-transgressing musical expedition left listeners with new appreciation for far-flung corners of the world and oft-forgotten episodes in history. Those listeners also gained a new awareness of the good fortune of living at a time and in a place where artistically minded sponsors such as the Charles and Gloria Maxfield Parrish Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Power Foundation donate generously to make concerts such as this one possible. Most of all, however, this time-and-space defying concert left listeners newly grateful that 21st-century Cedar City place enjoys the benefits of a regional orchestra sufficiently talented and imaginative to give music lovers an unforgettable melodic journey to very distant places and times.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Visiting World Wonders Through Music

By Tanisa Crosby

The Orchestra of Southern Utah is excited to announce their World Wonders Concert on Thursday, February 22 at 7:30 pm at the Heritage Center. Come take a round-trip to visit some of the great Wonders of the World through music. On this trip, we’ll be visiting The Great Barrier Reef with music from Debussy’s La Mer, The Great Pyramid of Giza with a medley from the Prince of Egypt, and Song of India by Rimksy-Korsakov representing the Taj Mahal.

You could spend thousands of dollars on traveling the world, but this music has its own fascinating power to transport the musicians and audience. Travel with us as we perform Jumping Bean a piece written by Villa-Lobos represents the World Wonders of Macchu Picchu and Christ the Redeemer Statue. Dr. Xun Sun originally premiered a Chinese piece Floating Cloud, Flowing River in China. This elegant melody savors a beautiful day and the joy of nature that you can see all around as if you were on top of the Great Wall of China. 

To enhance your travels with the Orchestra of Southern Utah, beautiful pictures will be displayed throughout the music. Poems will be performed by Canyon View High School students. Lauren S. Carter, this past years English Sterling Scholar, wrote her own poem that promises to be emotionally stirring.
We also welcome two guest performers: The Red Rock Singers, who will give us a small taste of the Carmina Burana to be performed with SUU’s choir, orchestra, and dancers on selected dates from February 28-March 5. The Southern Utah String Quartet, comprised of OSU musicians who have performed ensemble music for 30 years. Book your tickets now to journey with the Orchestra around the world.

The Concert will take place on Thursday, February 22nd at the Heritage Center (105 North 100 East, Cedar City, UT) and begins at 7:30 p.m. Children six and up are welcome to attend with adult supervision. No babies please as concerts are recorded.
Ticket prices are: Adults $12, Students $6, and Groups of up to 6 for $40. Tickets are available now by either phone (435-233-8213) or by purchase at Heritage (Festival Hall) Box Office.

Preview the music:
To purchase tickets or for more information: Emily Hepworth, OSU Manager, 435-238-8213
Concert photos, review, and more info at

Poster design by Rollan Fell of the Print Shoppe

Carylee Zwang conducts the World Wonders concert
Carylee Zwang, an Assistant Conductor for the Orchestra of Southern Utah, earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Utah University in Music Education.  She has spent more than 10 years in education and currently holds a position at SUU teaching Percussion Methods to upcoming educators.   She maintains a private percussion studio, giving one-on-one to local youth. She also donates time to the Cedar Valley Community Theater as a musician and conductor, as well as conducting the Parowan Community Choir.  Carylee also enjoys her time at home with her husband, beautiful daughter and has a new one on the way. 
Red Rock Singers preview upcoming Carmina Burana performances at OSU concert.

Southern Utah Quartet performs as guest artists
What are the Wonders of the World? 
Several Lists Give Us Areas to Explore

The classic seven wonders were:
Colossus of Rhodes, Greek statue
Great Pyramid of Giza.
Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Lighthouse of Alexandria.
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Turkey
Statue of Zeus at Olympia.
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.

New Seven Wonders of the World
The Great Wall of China
The Taj Mahal, India
Petra, Jordan
The Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Christ the Redeemer, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Chichén Itzá, Mexico (Maya city)
Machu Picchu, Peru

The Seven Wonders of the Modern World 
Channel Tunnel: The 50 kilometer tunnel running under the English Channel to connect England to France.
CN Tower: The 533 meter-high needle-like tower in downtown Toronto, Canada. At the time of its construction in 1976, it was the tallest building in the world. 
Empire State Building: The iconic skyscraper in Manhattan, New York City. The 102-story building was the tallest in the world from 1931 to 1970.
Golden Gate Bridge: San Francisco's iconic bridge first opened in 1937 and was the world's longest suspension bridge for nearly 30 years.
Itaipu Dam: Located on the border of Brazil and Paraguay, the Itaipu Dam is the second largest in the world for energy generation.
Netherlands North Sea Protection Works: A massive series of dams, levees, locks, and barriers that protect the low-lying Netherlands from the sea.
Panama Canal: Completed in 1917, the massive engineering project connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. A new and larger canal opened in 2016.

Seven Natural Wonders of the World
(In 1997, CNN announced a listing of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World)
Grand Canyon
The Harbor at Rio de Janeiro
Paricutin Volcano
Victoria Falls

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Kaleidoscope of Wonders: Children's Jubilee 2018

Thanks to everyone involved in the Children's Jubilee and school assemblies this season. 
So much fun. We appreciate all of you.
Thanks for the 160 pounds of food donated for Iron County Care and Share.

Special Thanks to the Sorenson Legacy Foundation for their support of OSU educational projects.  In addition to the Jubilee we have been able to provide six school assemblies and provide the VIP program so 4th graders can attend OSU concerts the year before they choose an instrument in the public schools.  Support for OSU helps keeps the music alive and we are thrilled to have the support to nurture a new generation of musicians.  Many OSU musicians are also music teachers.

Carrie Jo Bucklin helped arrange the SUU science groups.

Debbie Guy helped with the lobby deorations
Chinese instrument "Guzheng" thanks to Confuscious Insitute
Frehner Natural History Museum helping students identify animals

Southern Utah Rock Club even gave samples to students

Cedar Music Store and Studio let students try many instruments.

Southern Utah Children's Choir provided face painting

SUU Animal Ambassadors are always a hit.  The SUU Planetarium was upstairs.

Lauren McAfee from Cedar Library helped children experiment with bubbles

Kaychee Etchart shared robotics.

The harp arrives thanks to the Leavitts.  

Lisa Cox and Pam Minkler in the lobby with the food donation barrel. 

Debra Carter shows some of the percussion for the concert.

OSU honored four outstanding SUU educators with Volunteer plaques from the Lt. Governor's Office.  We so appreciate their ongoing suppport of the Children's Jubilee:  Jacqualine Grant, William Heyborne, Alisa Petersen and Brandon Wiggins.
William Heyborne

Alisa Petersen

Brandon Wiggins with OSU Manager Emily Hepworth.
Jacqualine Grant of SUU has provided inventive displays for the Frehner Natural History Museum for several years. 

Making kaleidoscopes with Art Fusion.

OSU President Harold Shirley checking out the Augmented Reality Sandbox. 

OSU Music Director Xun Sun with Sunny Chen and Kaili Brown.

OSU violinists Lindsay Sczcesny and Marin Colby

SUU Animal Ambassadors

Making Wonder of the Worlds cards with Cedar City Arts Council

Monster OSU Kaleidoscope with musican dress.
School Asssemblies preceeded the Jubilee with a fun song writing experience.
Melissa Leavitt and Roice Nelson provided school assemblies where students wrote lyrics and Roice added melody.

Melissa Leavitt at GPA Assembly

East Elementary
Song writers

Thanks to GPA and the other schools for hosting OSU assemblies