Classical Music Discoveries --Classical Music Discoveries -OSU%3
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Classical Music Discoveries . . vmcsatellite.combanners1111.jpg e Christensen ldquo;What,rdquo; the editors of New Sounds recently asked, ldquo;will the new orchestral music of the 21st Century sound likerdquo; As part of their own creative answer to that question, the Orchestra of Southern Utah (OSU) once again premiered delightful new music at its November 19th Fall Concert at the Heritage Center on the theme of ldquo;Romance and Heroics.rdquo; To be sure, the evening did not begin with new orchestral music. Rather, the concert began with two movements from a work that has endeared itself to music lovers for more than a century: Tchaikovskyrsquo;s Symphony No. 6 in B minor (Pathetiqueacute;). Written during the last year of the great Russian composerrsquo;s life, the first movement opens in notes of somber brooding. The poignant yearnings of the strings suggest an intense pleading for life, but the insistent strivings of the brass interrupt, implying the ultimately tragic futility of such pleading. Still, the stern brass instruments yield to tranquil interludes, as flute and then reed soloists beguile listeners with liquid reflections on the loves that have filled a marvelously creative life. The mood changes, however, in the second and final movement of the performance: the score grows tense, signaling struggle and impending conflict. The feeling then modulates, as waves of keening sorrow swell into majestic strains of profound melancholy, punctuated by sharp outbreaks of irrepressible grief. Redolent with funereal sadness, this poignant masterpiece finally fades into reverent silence. In choosing this daunting number, OSU director Xun Sun placed a difficult challenge before the musicians of his ensemble. But he and they rose to that challenge, deeply moving the audience with the tender passion of their collective interpretation. As always, Sun directed with evident emotion and engagement, and the instrumentalists under his baton responded with power and grace. After the Intermission, the spotlight shifted, as the orchestra joined with composer Keith Bradshaw in answering the query posed by New Sounds. Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra-- commissioned by OSU especially for this concert--thrilled listeners with the rich tapestry of truly exciting 21st-century music, remarkable both its kinetic energy and its tender pathos. In composing this piece to showcase the musical talents of his wife (Tracey Bradshaw) as a piano soloist, Bradshaw indeed sought to create ldquo;very contrasting effects,rdquo; delivering a very up-tempo and ldquo;energeticrdquo; first movement, followed by a second movement that is ldquo;melodic, and lyrical, allowing expressiveness and sensitivity,rdquo; and then concluding with a third movement that is ldquo;fast and driving to the end.rdquo; Together, the composer, the soloist, and the accompanying orchestra transported the audience into a wonderland of sonorous pleasure. Whether in the pulsing dynamism of the first movement, the languid introspection of the second movement, or the intense fury of the final movement, Ms. Bradshaw showed herself a consummate musical artist, her deft interpretation of her husbandrsquo;s work sustained by exceptional technical skill but informed by an insightful imagination. Nor should the artistry of the orchestra go unnoticed, for Ms. Bradshawrsquo;s solo shone all the brighter because of the perfectly modulated backdrop the orchestra provided. Composer, soloist, conductor, and orchestra all deserve high praise for bringing this exceptional new music to Cedar City: the standing ovation this number received was well earned. If the coming 91 years provide comparable music, then the musical legacy of the 21st century will be truly impressive. Having heard from a canonical Russian composer and from a rising American talent, the audience was ready for broadening their international horizon yet further in the third number: Celebration by the Chinese composers Zheng Lou and Ma Hong Ye. (Conductor Sunrsquo;s intimate knowledge of the musical wealth of his homeland probably accounts for the inclusion of this splendid number.) Beginning with the hushed expectancy of humming strings, Celebration quickly resounds with the far-off cry of horns, quickly echoed, only to explode in an astounding outpouring of infectiously melodic joy. Strings, percussion, brass, woodwindsmdash;every part of the orchestra joins in this exuberant festival of sound. Listeners would have to search very hard to find a comparable eruption of sheer symphonic happiness! The final number enlarged the international character of the concert not by adding a new nationality to the list of composers, but rather by focusing on a globally international event: The Olympics. Written by the American composer John Williams for the centennial Olympics of 1996, Summon the Heroes stirred in listenersrsquo; minds memories of truly heroic athletic feats performed by a global phalanx of athletes. Trumpets sound a martial call for valor in the opening notes, drums and cymbals marking the discipline of resolute struggle and the entire orchestra joining in an anthem to gallant exertion. With the inspiring dignity of their performance, the orchestra captured the spirit of the worldrsquo;s greatest athletic enterprise. Though not yet playing to a packed house, the OSU attracted a very sizable audience for this concert (filling a good part of the balcony as well as most of the main-level seats), giving evidence that more and more Cedar City residents are discovering why every OSU concert merits a place on the music-loverrsquo;s calendar. Whether premiering new music or playing well-established classic works, the Orchestra of Southern Utah is making the 21st century a wonderful era for music. Podcast hostess: Sandy Hedgecock RecordingSound: Ken Hedgecock Graphics by: Rollan Fellp

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