AUCS celebrates 100 years of music making with ‘Happy Birthday, !’ concert

Happy Birthday AUCS! Poster

ABERDEEN, S.D. – In November, the Aberdeen University Civic Symphony (AUCS) orchestra celebrates 100 years of music making in Aberdeen with its opening concert: “Happy Birthday, AUCS!”

The concert will take place Nov. 9 at 7:30 P.M. in the Johnson Fine Arts Center. The public is invited for a free pre-concert lecture about the history of the AUCS that will be presented by JoAnne Barry, as well as conductors Christopher Stanichar, Robert Vodnoy and Alex Fokkens.  That event will take place in Berggren Recital Hall at 6:30 pm, preceding the concert.

This concert will be a review of AUCS’ past century of works, including pieces that premiered in 1919 when the AUCS was launched. “Happy Birthday, AUCS!” will also premiere a work written by NSU faculty member, Dr. William Wieland, composed in honor of the centennial celebration.

Also participating on the concert will be two special guests: former AUCS music directors, Robert Vodnoy and Alex Fokkens.

The concert will include a performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasy on a Theme of Thomas Tallis,” a haunting work composed for string orchestra. The work is scored for two orchestras and string quartet, and joining the AUCS will be the Aberdeen Central High School Orchestra and the White Spruce Chamber Players will join us acting as the string quartet.

Another featured performance piece is “Berceuse and Finale” from “The Firebird” by Igor Stravinsky, revised in 1919, as well as Georges Bizet’s “Carmen Symphony,” an unforgettable opera with sassy and haunting melodies that tell the story of a Spanish gypsy–Carmen.

NSU alumna and mezzo-soprano, Megan Potter, will be playing the role of “Carmen.” Currently a professional singer based in the Denver area, Potter has sung with several regional opera companies around the United States. Back on the podium for this performance is Dr. Robert Vodnoy, who is currently conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Sarasota and the Whiting Park Festival Orchestra.

The final surprise piece for this concert is “South Dakota, My Dakota” by Aberdeen local John Cacavas. Cacavas has also orchestrated this piece for the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra in 1989, in honor of South Dakota’s centennial. It was conducted by Gov. George Mickelson in Pierre, and will be an Aberdeen premiere.

There is something for everyone on this concert, and a sonic birthday cake for your ears! Tickets are 18$ for adults and free for students and available from the Johnson Fine Arts Center Box Office. Box office hours are noon-4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; phone number is 605-626-2900, email The box office opens two hours before show time on performance nights.

For more information about the AUCS or tickets for orchestra concerts, contact the NSU Fine Arts Office at 605-626-2497.

About Northern State University

Northern State University is a regional university that offers outstanding academics and exceptional extracurricular activities at an affordable price on a safe, welcoming campus. Northern State recently announced its Educational Impact Campaign, with a goal of raising $55 million for a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, new athletic and recreation fields, and an on-campus regional sports complex. Once the campaign is complete, NSU will be the recipient of more than $100 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.