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A taste of Russia springs up in LASO concert

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Music: The Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra will perform at 7 p.m. April 27

“Russian music always touches my soul” and “I really like this symphony,” are comments made by two violinists in the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra, in reference to the rarely played symphony the group will perform as part of the Spring Concert on April 27.
The work is not by one of the giants of Russian composers — Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich or Borodin, to name a few — but by a relatively unknown composer, Vasily Kalinnikov (1866-1901).
Music Director Dr. Ivan Shulman chose this work because it is new to the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra — fresh to the ears of both the players and the audience — and because  “it grows on you.”  The work has a cantorial quality, based upon the liturgy of the Orthodox Church common to many Russian works. It is skillfully orchestrated, with a balance between winds and strings, with themes reminiscent of folk melodies from Central Asia to those of Eastern Europe. David Robertson, music director of the St. Louis Symphony recently called it the “Tchaikovsky Seventh Symphony.”
The concert will open with what is almost certainly the New Mexico premiere of a Polonaise by Antonin Dvorak.  Shulman “discovered” this work in 1995 after his mother suggested it to him after hearing it once on the radio.  After a rather circuitous path, Shulman was able to locate the score in Prague as well as a set of parts in a dusty section of the music library of the Detroit Symphony.
Well-known French horn player and local Los Alamos resident John Hargreaves will perform Mozart’s “Horn Concerto in E-flat major, K. 495.” The score for this work has been compiled from several sources, as no complete original score has ever been found.
The Spring Concert will be Shulman’s second concert as music director of the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra. In addition to conducting the group, he conducts the Los Angeles Doctors Orchestra and is a practicing surgeon. His aim in conducting is to “make music, not just to play the notes.”  
Toward that end, he demands precision and attention to details — articulation, intonation, dynamics and phrasing. One woodwind player said, “Ivan has inspired me to dig deep in my practicing — paying attention to all those details.”
The concert starts at 7 p.m. at Crossroads Bible Church.
Tickets at $15 for adults and will be available at the door. Students will be admitted for free.

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