LACW to feature Russian music, high school musicians

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By Special to the Monitor

Russian architect and artist, Viktor Alexandrovich Hartmann, grew up in St. Petersburg. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg and at first started working by illustrating books.

In his work as an architect, he sketched, among other things, the monument to the 1,000th anniversary of Russia in Novgorod, which was inaugurated in 1862. His watercolors and pencil drawings were often made while traveling abroad from 1864-1868. Hartmann was one of the first artists to include traditional Russian motifs in his work.

In 1870, Vladimir Stasov, the most respected Russian music critic of his day, introduced him to a group of Russian nationalist composers known as the “Mighty Five.” He became close friends with members of this group, which included Mily Balakirev and Modeste Moussorgsky. Following Hartmann’s early death from an aneurysm at age 39, an exhibition of more than 400 of his paintings was displayed in the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, in February and March 1874. This inspired Moussorgsky to compose a piano suite titled, “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Most of this collection of underlying works is now lost.

However, the suite remains one of the greatest works of 19th century Russian music, a debt it owes to the magnificent 1922 orchestration by Maurice Ravel, which made it a standard of the orchestral repertoire.

The Los Alamos Community Winds will feature Moussorgsky’s work at its final concert of the 2007-2008 season at 7 p.m. May 10 at White Rock Baptist Church.

Arranged for band by Mark Hindsley, and based in part on the Ravel orchestration, “Pictures at an Exhibition” is a work that only few wind groups attempt to perform in its entirety. Most settle for the well-known finale entitled, “The Great Gate of Kiev.”

“Performing a work of this magnitude is always a tremendous challenge – even for professional ensembles,” said LACW Musical Director Ted Vives. “I am so proud of this group in that they not only attempt such difficult literature, but that they always play it well. What conductor doesn’t relish that kind of opportunity – to be able to conduct great literature with an ensemble that is able to perform it?”

The concert will also include the New Mexico premier of a new work by Robert Thurston, chief arranger for the United States Air Force Band in Washington, D.C. Thurston’s work, “Mysterious Presence” features clarinetist Robert Chrien.

Also featured in this concert will be the winners of the 2008 Los Alamos Community Winds Student Solo Competition: Kathy Lin, piano; and Adam Nekimken, trombone. Lin, a sophomore at Los Alamos High School, will perform the first movement of Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major.” Nekimken, a junior at LAHS, will perform “Prlude et Divertissement” by Robert Clerisse.

“We would hope that in a community where it is so often heard that our children come first, an opportunity to hear two of our finest young musicians perform would not be missed,” said Vives. “Kathy and Adam have both worked extremely hard and deserve the support of the entire community, as do all our student musicians.”

The Los Alamos Community Winds currently has some 50 members, eight of which are students in either middle or high school. “Quite candidly,” continued Vives, “we would find it difficult to perform the music that we program without them. Many of these young people could easily go on to become world-class musicians, and we are very proud to have them in our ensemble. Their expertise is a testament to the outstanding music education we have in this community, both at the private and public school levels, and we thank the teachers for their work as well.”

As always, all concerts by the Los Alamos Community Winds are presented free of charge to the public. A $5 per guest donation is graciously requested. Seating is limited so arrive early.

The Los Alamos Community Winds would also like to invite all interested singers to join them for their annual July 4 concert at Overlook Park. Rehearsals begin June 2.

For more information, contact director Ted Vives at tavives@comcast.net.