Fox Valley Symphony has special 'Traditions' in store for Saturday
January 25, 2013
The Fox Valley Symphony has won the musical lottery not once, but twice, and will share its findings with the community onstage Saturday during its “Traditions” concert.
Two of the pieces on the concert’s program — “Suite on Children’s Tunes” by LaVahn Maesch and “In Memoriam Dennis Brain” by Benjamin Britten — are rediscovered works. The symphony will perform the U.S. premiere of the Britten composition.
Principal horn player Bruce Atwell found the piece while touring the Britten Library in England. The tribute to British horn player Dennis Brain, for four horns, strings and percussion, hung in a frame on a wall in the library.
“Discovering a piece by a composer as popular and powerful as Benjamin Britten, which has yet to be played (in the U.S.), it’s almost inconceivable,” said Brian Groner, the symphony’s music director.
Maesch, an Appleton native and Lawrence University alumnus, once held the position of dean of the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music. His “Suite on Children’s Tunes” is based on three poems: “A Pantomime,” “A Lullaby” and “A Parade.”
“The last time it was performed was in 1996 and the parts disappeared after its last performance,” Groner said. “The score turned up in the hands of the librarian of the Louisiana Philharmonic ... he did a little research and realized there were ties to Appleton ... and Lawrence University. He’s a friend of mine and he sent me an email. We talked to people at Lawrence about an interest in collaborating with them to perform this work again.”
“Traditions,” which features guest violinist Wen-Lei Gu, starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in downtown Appleton.
Tickets cost $29-$59. Student tickets cost $10 the day of the concert with identification. Music teachers receive one free ticket with identification.
To participate in the symphony’s “Music for a Cause” program, mention “Lawrence Academy of Music” when ordering tickets. The symphony will donate 75 percent of the face value of those designated tickets to the concert’s featured nonprofit organization, the Lawrence Academy of Music.
Karen Bruno, the Lawrence Academy of Music’s director, said the proceeds will funnel into the “Tutti!” fund, which helps finance tuition assistance, and program and staff support.
The concert’s Lawrence connections continue with Gu, an associate professor of music who appeared with the symphony in 2009. On Saturday, she’ll perform Edward Elgar’s Violin Concerto in B Minor, Opus 61.
“I think of this concerto as the hero’s life,” she said. “It’s not only tremendous in its size and length but also its largeness in its emotional scope. It goes all the way from very triumphant, heroic moments to tender longings, and despair and regrets.”
Lawrence music composition major Daniel Miller prepared the Maesch piece for the symphony to perform.
“It was exciting to transcribe the handwritten manuscript, probably for the first time, into a computer engraved score and parts,” said Miller, 23, a fifth-year student from Redmond, Wash. “I understand from notes at the beginning of LaVahn Maesch’s score that this work was conducted on several occasions by the great American conductor and composer Howard Hanson. Discovering this was really exciting for me. I felt that I was working on a score that has played a part in twentieth-century music history.”
If you go
What: Fox Valley Symphony presents its concert “Traditions,” with violinist Wen-Lei Gu
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, downtown Appleton
Tickets: $29-$59. Student tickets cost $10 the day of the concert with identification. Music teachers receive one free ticket with identification. Group prices are available. To participate in the Fox Valley Symphony’s “Music for a Cause” program, mention “Lawrence Academy of Music” when ordering tickets. The symphony will donate 75 percent of the face value of those designated tickets to the concert’s featured nonprofit organization, the Lawrence Academy of Music.
Related events: A pre-concert talk for ticket holders with Julie McQuinn of Lawrence University starts at 6:40 p.m. Saturday in the PAC’s Kimberly-Clark Theater. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Lawrence Academy of Music students will perform in the PAC’s lobby. A reception follows the concert.
Contact: 920-730-3760 and www.foxcitiespac.com