Friday, May 04, 2012

Humboldt Symphony Explores Musical Hybrids

From Appalachia to Mexico, Berlin cabaret to the Beijing Opera, the Humboldt Symphony and guests explore musical hybrids on Friday evening, May 4 and Sunday afternoon, May 6 in the Fulkerson Recital Hall at HSU.

Kurt Weil extracted the best tunes from his wildly popular Threepenny Opera to create a suite for the concert stage, Little Threepenny Music.  “It’s a hybrid of German classical music with 1920s jazz, including Charleston rhythms, a tango and an Al Jolson crooner-style piece,” said Symphony conductor Paul Cummings. The suite includes a movement devoted to the familiar tune of “Mack the Knife.”

The Symphony turns to hybrids of traditional tunes crossed with classical orchestration. Soprano Elisabeth Harrington and guest harpist Jessica Schaeffer join the Symphony string orchestra for Five Appalachian Folk Songs by contemporary American composer Jack Jarrett. They include the familiar melodies of “Shenandoah” and “Black is the Color of My True-love’s Hair.”

Huapango by contemporary Mexican composer Juan Pablo Moncayo is “very rich ethnic Mexican music for full orchestra,” Cummings said, “with many vibrant solos, especially for trumpet and trombone.”

The Symphony reprises an orchestra piece from the recent New Horizons Festival by composer Chen Yi. Jing Diao literally means a Beijing Opera tune, but this similarly high-spirited piece honors Seattle Symphony conductor Gerard Schwarz for his support of the music of living composers.  This hybrid of Chinese and Western music was first played just last spring during Schwarz’s farewell season. “It’s an exciting piece, with a real sense of celebration,” Cummings said.

Humboldt Symphony and guests perform on Friday May 4 at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $7/3, free to HSU students from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Conducted by Paul Cummings, produced by the HSU Music Department.

Media Preview: Arcata Eye, Humboldt State Now.

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