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A musical spring

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By Special to the Monitor

The Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra is continuing its 60th year anniversary celebration, and along with tulips and daffodils, is bursting with vigor in preparation of its spring concert to be presented at 7 p.m. April 11 in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. Michael Gyurik, now in his 10th year as the LASO director, will conduct the program. Gyurik is well known throughout the area as the former conductor of the Loyola University Chamber Orchestra and as a violist. Gyurik, the orchestra director of the Los Alamos High School orchestra, teaches elementary strings in Los Alamos schools and gives private violin, viola, and cello lessons.The program this spring is comprised of “suites,” four of them in fact. No travel is more memorable or exciting as a trip down the Grand Canyon, and so LASO is bringing this popular and remarkable piece to Los Alamos. Join us and perhaps once again relive the “Sunrise,” “Sunset,” “Cloudburst,” “Painted Desert” and lastly the picturesque “On The Trail,” of Ferde Grofe’s “Grand Canyon Suite” (an orchestral tone poem). This presentation is a featured work on the LASO spring concert.Of particular interest to those who are enchanted and have a curiosity in Native Americans, will be the “Second (Indian) Suite” op. 48 by composer Edward MacDowell. This suite recreates the mood of the rude environment of the North American Indian as well as the tenderness, mysticism and romance, which made the “Red Man” so unique.A third presentation is the “Capriol Suite for String Orchestra” by Peter Warlock. Songs of distinct individuality reminiscent of old English music with some influence of Delius is to be plainly comprehended.Suite for viola and orchestra, “UFFDA” will be a premiere orchestrated version of the musical comedy “UFFDUH,” which premiered in May 2007, by the Los Alamos Little Theatre. This comedy was written and composed by two Los Alamos musicians, Cary Neeper and Bonnie Kellogg. Jackie MacFarlane interviewed these two individuals and learned the two women pooled their talents in 2003 after Neeper re-read a play – “The Crystal Diadem,” complete with a libretto, which she had written some 30 or 40 years earlier. Over hot dogs at a church luncheon, Neeper approached Kellogg – well known in her church community for the many tunes she had written – and asked her if she might like to put the libretto to music. Kellogg jumped at the opportunity, and the two were off and running.According to MacFarlane, during the next four years Neeper and Kellogg put their heads together almost daily. Neeper would hand a libretto to Kellogg who would write the appropriate tune, with harmony and piano accompaniment. This was then returned to Neeper who would put it in the computer to “proof” it by checking the notes. Then Neeper orchestrated it.Her tools were the Sibelius computer program and her understanding of orchestration, learned from her own ensemble playing and books on instrumentation (especially the one by Rimsky Korsakov). The feedback given by local musicians who read through the music, however, was her most valuable tool.The orchestral suite gives a panorama of different styles of music – ranging from baroque to rumba, from synthesizer to harp, from chromatic to country. All are used to represent the various alien characters in the musical. Neeper and Kellogg agree that the suite is “semi-serious, but whimsical”.The LASO is very pleased to have amongst its members a number of Los Alamos music students. A goal of this organization has always been to encourage the active participation of local young musicians by performing with adults for many enduring experiences. This program is further enhanced by two LAHS graduates - Heather Jacobson Vincent, playing cello, and Wendy Dreeson on violin.In the fall of 2007 LASO launched a long awaited goal of establishing a scholarship fund. This fund will offer several scholarships to gifted and talented LAHS seniors to help further their musical careers. This fund is held at the Los Alamos National Bank. LASO will need help from the local community in increasing the fund so that the interest earned on these monies may be used for scholarships.These scholarships will be available to students from all groups of instruments i.e. strings, winds, brass and percussion. Following the concert, a member of the symphony will be available at the entrance if you wish to donate.Envelopes will also be available to mail your contributions. As in the past, the symphony is counting on the community’s support and urges you to make a contribution.Concert tickets will be available at the door at 7 p.m. April 11 at IHM Church, and are priced at $10 for adults and $5 for students.