LACW to perform a 20th Century masterpiece

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By Special to the Monitor

Saturday, the Los Alamos Community Winds (LACW), under the baton of musical director Ted Vives, will conclude its 10th anniversary season with a performance of Carl Orff’s 1937 groundbreaking work, “Carmina Burana.” Noted for its scale and scope, the LACW will be joined by the Los Alamos High School choral program under the direction of Paula Nichols.

“‘Carmina Burana’ is one of those 20th century works that in addition to being very accessible to audiences, is simply a lot of fun to conduct,” Vives said. “It is a huge work for ensemble, chorus and soloists that is rhythmic, exciting, beautiful, funny – all factors that make for a thoroughly enjoyable experience for the audience and performers alike.”

Many productions have also included dance troupes, magicians, acrobats and all manner of staged entertainment. Orff’s original idea for the work was that it would be such a production.

At the beginning of the 1930s, while serving as conductor of the Munich Bach Society, Orff produced a number of arrangements of early music. His research in this area eventually led to the creation of “Carmina Burana,” his first and greatest success.

When Orff came across the manuscript in 1935, which was tucked away in a Bavarian monastery, it captivated him immediately. He was quoted as saying the work was “not sophisticated, not intellectual” and based on “themes that everyone knows.” Those themes of “the wheel of fortune,” “celebration of spring,” “eating, drinking and making merry” and “love in all its forms” are universal. There is a spiritual and visceral power behind “Carmina Burana,” which is why it is so beloved throughout the music world.

In addition to the LAHS choirs, the performance will also feature three student soloists: Chesney Clark, soprano; Yasmeen Lookman, mezzo-soprano; and Bob Collom, baritone.

“The level of musicianship in our town’s students is remarkable,” Vives said. “This is not easy music for either the soloists or the choir. It calls for very mature singers with range and presence. As president of the local music teachers organization, I can say with some authority that music education in Los Alamos, both at the private studio level and the public school level is alive and well and producing some extremely talented musicians. We are very pleased and honored to have such fine singers joining us for this performance.”

This concert also represents the LACW’s return to its film and television repertoire with music from “2001 - A Space Odyssey,” “Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves,” and “Star Wars” all culled from previous concerts and requested by the membership for encore performances.

This concert is being digitally recorded.

Both DVDs and CDs of the performance will be available to order during intermission and afterward.

The concert will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday at Duane Smith Auditorium. Admission is free. A requested donation of $10 per guest is appreciated. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.