ABERDEEN, S.D. – The Aberdeen University/Civic Symphony will present its spring concert, A GRAND FINALE, in the main theater of the Johnson Fine Arts Center on Saturday, April 29, 2017, at 7:30 p.m.
The program includes music by Mozart, Dvořák, Copland and Beethoven. The concert will be conducted by Dr. Robert Vodnoy, who is in his 12th year as conductor of the orchestra. The concert is sponsored by The Molded Fiber Glass Companies.
The program will feature as soloists Dr. Audrey Miller, the new assistant professor of clarinet, and Dr. Kenneth Boulton, Grammy® nominated pianist and the new dean of the School of Fine Arts. The program will also feature the NSU Concert Choir, prepared for the performance by Dr. Timothy Woods.
Dr. Miller came to NSU in the fall semester 2015 as interim clarinet instructor and was appointed to the position of assistant professor of clarinet and music theory and conductor of the NSU concert in 2016, after a national search. Dr. Boulton became the new dean of the School of Fine Arts in 2016, succeeding Dr. Alan LaFave.
“The orchestra is delighted to be able to perform with these two extraordinary musicians,” said Vodnoy. “The concert will mark Dr. Miller’s and Dr. Boulton’s orchestral debuts in Aberdeen, and we are thrilled to be performing some very special repertoire with them.”
Copland’s Clarinet Concerto
Dr. Miller will perform Aaron Copland’s “Clarinet Concerto” with the orchestra, a work that Copland wrote for Benny Goodman in 1947-1948. It was premiered by Goodman in a radio broadcast with the NBC Symphony under the direction of Fritz Reiner in 1950. Copland blended his Americana style with jazz to create a masterpiece. The opening movement, a song form, is reminiscent of “Appalachian Spring.” Copland called it a “pas de deux” and said: “It will make them weep!”
After a fiery cadenza, the music turns jazzy, with “slapping basses and whacking harp sounds” to imitate percussion, according to Copland. Copland also uses Brazilian folk song and Latin rhythms that he heard in Rio de Janeiro while on a State Department tour in 1948. The concerto ends with a clarinet glissando – or “smear” in jazz parlance. The work is scored for solo clarinet, harp, piano, and strings.
Beethoven’s “Choral Fantasy”
Dr. Boulton will perform Beethoven’s “Choral Fantasy for Piano, Chorus, and Orchestra.” It will be the concluding work on the concert and will bring the program and the season to a rousing ending. Beethoven composed the “Choral Fantasy” in 1808 to conclude the largest concert he produced in his lifetime. That concert is known as the “Monster Concert” because it was almost four hours long! It is generally thought that the “Choral Fantasy” is the direct precursor to Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony” with the introduction of the human voice to end both works. Both works have a similar theme and a utopian vision. The tune of the “Choral Fantasy” even resembles the “Ode to Joy.” The text reads, in part:
Peace and joy advance in perfect accord
Like the alternating play of the waves.
All harsh and hostile elements
Give in to a sublime sentiment.
The NSU Concert Choir, plus members of the Aberdeen community who have sung with the NSU Concert Choir in the past, will join Boulton and the orchestra for this unusual and evocative work.
Other Repertoire on the Concert
The concert will open with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Overture to The Magic Flute.” Mozart completed the opera in 1791, just two months before his premature death. The opera and the overture are imbued with Masonic symbols and ritual. After a mysterious opening, beginning with three majestic E-flat major chords, the overture is off-and-running. In the middle of the work, the famous three-times-three chords appear (a direct reference to the knock on the door of a Masonic Lodge). Then the music resumes its frenetic pace, with greater complexity until it reaches its brilliant conclusion.
Also included on the program will be Antonín Dvořák’s “American Suite, Op. 98b.” The suite was originally written for piano, but Dvořák orchestrated in 1895, just before returning to Bohemia from the United States. The piece is informed by Dvořák’s experiences in Spillville, Iowa, where he vacationed at a Moravian colony in the summers while teaching in New York City. The colony was located adjacent to an Indian reservation, where Dvořák listened to a Kickapoo Medicine Show performance which included two African-American musicians. In the suite, we hear Native American Dances commingled with banjo music and Bohemian folk songs. The first and last movements of the suite capture the open vistas of the American prairie.
More about the Artists
Before coming to NSU, Dr. Miller lived in Phoenix, Ariz., where she was an active chamber musician and clarinet teacher to students of all ages. She performed throughout Phoenix area as part of Classical Revolution PHX, Clarinets for Conservation, Kaleidoscope Winds reed quintet, Paradise Winds, and many more. Miller made her international debut in Belgium in 2011 and spent the summer of 2013 teaching and performing in Tanzania as a part of Clarinets for Conservation.
She has performed around the United States, premiering a work by composer Scott McAllister at the 2012 International Clarinet Association’s Clarinet Fest in Lincoln, Neb. Dr. Miller recently finished her Doctorate of Musical Arts Degree in clarinet performance at Arizona State University. Her research focused on commissioning new works for clarinet/bass clarinet and other woodwind instruments.
Dr. Boulton is a Grammy®-nominated pianist whose performances and recordings have garnered international acclaim. His discography features nine recordings of solo and chamber repertoire, much of which is devoted to contemporary American music. The highlight of Dr. Boulton’s output is his recording, “Louisiana – A Pianist’s Journey,” which was released in 2007 on Cambria Master Recordings and received a Grammy® nomination for best classical instrumental soloist.
A seasoned performer, Dr. Boulton has presented solo and chamber music recitals in many major U.S. cities, including New York; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Dallas/Fort Worth; Atlanta; Los Angeles; New Orleans; and Seattle. His international appearances have included performances at Moscow Conservatory’s Rachmaninoff Hall and Oxford University, as well as concerts in Germany and Romania. He routinely appears with his wife, JoAnne Barry, in recitals and lectures of piano duo and duet music. Prior to coming to NSU, Boulton was professor of piano at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he also served as interim head of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts from 2011 to 2015 and director of the Southeastern Community Music School from 2003 to 2010.
Dr. Robert Vodnoy, conductor of the University/Civic Symphony, and Dr. Miller will present a free pre-concert conversation in Berggren Recital Hall at 6:30 p.m. on the evening of the concert.
“We really look forward to this opportunity to talk with the audience about the music on the concert,” Vodnoy said. “We had a good turn-out for the pre-concert conversation in February, and Dr. Miller and I look forward to talking about the Copland ‘Clarinet Concerto’ and other works on the program with the audience. This is really part of the educational mission of the orchestra and the university.”
Tickets are $18 for adults, $9 for NSU faculty and staff, and free for all students. NSU now offers reserved seating for concerts so that patrons can attend the pre-concert conversation and be guaranteed of a good seat when going to the concert hall. Concert-goers who hold vouchers for tickets must redeem them no later than Friday, April 28.
Tickets are available online through ARTS|NSU and the JFAC box office. For information on all fine arts events at Northern State, call 605-626-2900 or 605-626-2497 or visit the NSU School of Fine Arts. JFAC box office hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, noon-4 p.m.
Information about the orchestra can be found at www.aberdeensymphony.org.
About Northern State University
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