NOTE: This review has been updated since originally posted. See CONCERT UPDATE at the end for scenes from the concert and afterward.
The concert at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts included robust sounds of two extremely popular works AND something never done before by the organization that is celebrating its 100th anniversary season.
Opening the concert were three songs composed by Jennifer Stevens, a visual artist who also is a classically trained singer – and a bridge between Native American language/life and the operatic style of music.
The section was quite a large production. Behind Stevens was a FULL orchestra. Projected on a screen were titles of her songs followed by images in keeping with the songs’ concepts – babies/childhood,
In general, the songs are gentle and flowing. Stevens embraced them with her airy voice and deep soul. She sang in
The songs are from a whole different world than tribal songs that come with high-pitched, rhythmic singing and powerful drum beats. These songs are from a gentler sensibility and, with complementing orchestrations, inescapably beautiful. Alaric Coussons composed for “Kahsl-ta” (Dream) and “Owi-la” (Wind), and Zinsmeister composed for “Ol-na” (Prayer). Adding the ethereal qualities to “Owi-la” (Wind) was Native American flute player Wade Fernandez.
The theme of the evening was “Heritage,” and this section brought to the fore a part of a heritage that has been in
The other works on the program (4½ stars out of 5 overall) gave guest conductor Octavio Mas-Arocas a chance to stir the orchestra and audience.
Octavio Mas-Arocas, conductor
Jennifer Stevens, arrangements by Alaric Coussons: “
Jennifer Stevens, soprano
George Bizet: “Suite from the Incidental Music to Alphonse Daudet’s Play ‘L’Arlesienne’”
Antonin Dvorak: “Symphony No. 9 in e minor, Opus 95, (‘From the
I. Adagio – Allegro molto
III. Scherzo: Molto vivace
IV. Allegro con fuoco
Mas-Arocas is from the faculty of
In keeping with the “Heritage” theme, the Grand Foyer prior to the concert was filled with displays by area historical organizations. The concept of GBSO executive director Dan Linssen is to dress up the concert evenings with extras.
Linssen also greeted the audience from the stage prior to the performance. The effect is welcoming, in part because Linssen is free to move because of a wireless microphone. Saturday, he pointed out bits of interest, such as the presence of a large contingent of students from Algoma who had come, thanks to sponsorship of the Algoma Optimists club, to take in the wonders of “From the New World.”
THE VENUE: Opened Jan. 15, 1993, Cofrin Family Hall is one of three performance spaces within the
THE PERSON: Edward W. Weidner (1921-2007) was the beloved founding chancellor of UWGB. He arrived when there were no buildings on the present-day campus on rolling hills near the
CONCERT UPDATE: At http://wakohsiyostudio.com/gbso_heritage_concert is Jennifer Stevens’ recap of the concert, including photos from before, during and after the performance. The site chronicles the "Oneida Art Songs" section in detail.
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