April concerts by the Southern Arizona Symphony

Punch Howarth

In thinking about writing this article describing the April concert by the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra, my first thought was that it will be esoteric, but no; is it too abstract? And again, no; what it is, is a surprisingly unique concert. Director Linus Lerner has selected works for strings and soloist, a Chinese string instrument, and a five-part work for orchestra, soloists and chorus singing in Latin. This is not the usual overture-concerto-symphony program.

Opening the concert will be Eric Whitacre’s Midnight Moon for Strings, Harp and Soprano based upon Margaret Wise Brown’s children’s bedtime story of the same name depicting a child saying goodnight to everything in the environment, some of which are goodnight kittens-mittens, house-mouse, bears-chairs, clocks-socks, etc. Composer Whitacre is a graduate of University of Nevada Las Vegas and The Julliard School in N.Y.C. His teachers were Virko Baley, David Weiller, John Corigliano and David Diamond. His output includes works for orchestra, wind ensemble (band), chorus, solo voice and musical theater. Soloist will be soprano Christi Amonson making a repeat appearance with SASO. She has performed at Chautauqua Opera, Opera Delaware, Southern Arizona Opera, Sacramento Choral Society and Arizona Opera Guild. Dr. Amonson is a faculty member at Troy University in Alabama and has degrees from University of Idaho, Manhattan School of Music and University of Arizona.

The concert’s most unusual and novel work will be Eternal Regret of Lin’An for Guzheng by composer He Zhanhao and features Larry Leung as soloist. The Guzheng is an oriental instrument played with both hands that sits flat on a table. Mr. Leung is also making a repeat performance with SASO. Composer He Zhanhao is a professor of music at Shanghai University.

Next we have an unknown factor as the winner of the Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition has yet to be announced. This person will select a concerto movement and perform it with the orchestra.

Anton Bruckner’s Te Deum in C major WAB 45, meaning in German work by Anton Bruckner No.45, will close the program. Scoring calls for orchestra, SATB soloists, chorus and organ and was first performed in Vienna in January 1886 conducted by Hans Richter. Bruckner inscribed the score “fur Engelzungen, gottsucher—” for the tongues of angels, heaven-blest. The Latin text is divided into five sections: 1 Fast, C major, 2 Moderato, F minor, 3 Fast, D minor, 4 Moderato, F minor, 5 Broad-expansive, C major. The work has a full powerful conclusion. Bruckner’s place comes after Brahms and Wagner, who both influenced him, and prior to Mahler.

Concert dates are April 1 at Valley Presbyterian Church in Green Valley at 7:00 p.m., April 2 in SaddleBrooke at DesertView Performing Arts Auditorium at 7:30 p.m., and April 3 in Oro Valley at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church at 3:00 p.m. For additional information about tickets, soloists and SASO go to  www.sasomusic.org.