POSTED ON OCTOBER 3, 2012:
Lots of Strings and a Singing Plant
Signature Symphony, Tulsa Camerata, Appassionata Duo all bust out their violins and such
The Rotary Club of Tulsa does a great thing every year: it holds the Crescendo Music Awards. High school and college musicians compete for prizes, and in the past 15 years of the awards, more than $300,000 has been handed out. That's a lot of cash for a lot of talented kids.
Now, Tulsa's Signature Symphony at TCC is adding something cool to that: two of this year's winners return and will perform with the group. Winner Jie Yuan will perform Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, and Wiexiong Wang will tackle Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto.
Dr. Barry Epperly, conductor and artistic director of Signature Symphony, looks forward to sharing the VanTrease PACE stage on Oct. 6 with the Crescendo winners.
Diverse Duo. Jess Cowen and Jill Wiebe use harp and viola o perform pop and rock classics.
"This is the first time we've done it. It should be a good concert," he said.
Playing these works is an accomplishment for the young performers, to be sure, but the symphony players don't exactly have a cake walk in front of them.
"We will do four rehearsals, and the soloists will get here Wednesday," Epperly said. "We're taking them into several schools in Thursday and Friday, and we'll have a look-in rehearsal on Thursday, and we hope to have a couple of hundred kids there. I usually interview the artists to talk about their career and how much they practice and things like that."
Four rehearsals, one of which has an audience of teenagers, and then a performance of some pretty freaking hard music. The symphony members will deserve applause every bit as much as the soloists.
Epperly is glad to be able to play these pieces, because while they are mainstays of symphonic literature, he doesn't get to do them all that often.
"These are standard repertoire, but only doing five classics concerts a year, we don't see them enough to be hyper-familiar with them," he said. "But everyone works hard, and with only rehearsing for a week, that's our standard, so it's what we're used to."
And they've gotten used to some pretty heady stuff.
"We've done several Mahlers, we've done all the Brahms, and we've done the Rach Three and the 'Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,'" he said. "They look forward to doing good literature. That's what we're trying to do."
"Rachmaninoff and Mozart" is presented at the VanTrease PACE at 8pm Saturday. Tickets start at $21.75 and are available at www.signaturesymphonyattcc.org.
French Connections by Tulsa Camerata
Tulsa Camerata, Tulsa's premiere chamber music ensemble, kicks off its third season Thursday in a new place it is calling home: the Philbrook Museum of Art.
"Rather than just presenting concerts, we're developing a partnership with the Philbrook," said Tulsa Camerata executive director and bassist Jesus Villareal.
The group will present its entire season at the Philbrook, and both parties benefit.
"One of the things we're going to do is give them an extra concert based around one of their traveling exhibits," Villareal said. "We will be tailoring a program to fit with one of those exhibits."
What Tulsa Camerata gets out of the deal is an exquisite performance space, as well as the name recognition of the Philbrook.
"Philbrook has a wonderful hall called the Patty Johnson Wilson Hall. It's a 203-seat venue," he said. "If you've never heard a concert in there, the acoustics are just terrific, and there's not a bad seat in the house. Everyone's just going to die hearing this music in this hall."
What you'll hear in that hall on Thursday is a collection of music spanning about 270 years' worth of music history. The best-known of the composers represented is Claude Debussy, whose 150th birthday recently came and went.
"One of the reasons he's so important is that he's kind of the linchpin that sort of holds together the connection between Romantic music and modern music," Villareal said.
Debussy also influenced quite a number of composers who came after him, one of which was Toru Takemitsu, whose "Between Tides" is also on the program.
"Takemitsu was probably most influenced by Debussy," he said. "He was mostly a self-taught composer, so he sort of learned from his influences like Debussy. That's' why there's a Japanese composer on a French program."
Tulsa Camerata presents "French Connections" at 7pm Oct. 4 at the Philbrook. Tickets are $20, and more information can be found at philbrook.org.
Pecha Kucha #2 by Living Arts of Tulsa
"Pecha kucha" loosely translates from Japanese as "chit-chat," but what Living Arts is hosting is a bit deeper than just small talk.
A pecha kucha presentation consists of 20 slides, each displayed for 20 seconds. You know, like how you wish every Powerpoint you've ever had to sit through would be. It's over in a little more than six minutes, and when you're done, you'll have learned something cool.
Steve Liggett, program director at Living Arts, brought the format to Tulsa after encountering it in San Francisco a few years ago.
"Then I also went to one in Chicago to see what it was all about," Liggett said. "It was really incredible, and I thought it kind of fed into everything that was going on in Tulsa -- you know, Urban Tulsa's Absolute Best of Tulsa, the Top 40 under 40, and just all the creative things people are doing."
What Living Arts hopes to do, then, is showcase the best of the best in several fields, and have them riff on what it is that they're the best at.
"Amy Cottingham is a musician in Tulsa, and she'll be talking about what she's doing in the new music scene here, and she'll also play a little bit," Liggett said. "Another musician will be talking about his creative process. You know, there are so many artists and you don't always know how they come up with their ideas. So this is just fun way to, you know, have a beer and listen to this stuff."
Also joining in will be UTW's own Ray Pearcy -- among others -- bringing the number of pecha kucha-ers to about 20, all talking about a wide variety of things.
"Ray is going to be talking about science and the talented amateur, which he's very excited about, and there's Ron Fleming, the great wood-turner here in town, and he's looked at around the world as one of the greatest wood carvers, and he's right here in Tulsa," Liggett said. "We have another guy who will be talking about the Day of the Dead and what it actually means to build an altar. He's interested in changing the way Tulsa thinks about death."
Pecha Kucha Tulsa Night 2 will take place at Living Arts of Tulsa, 307 E. Brady St. Doors open at 7pm and the event begins at 8pm.
Big doings at Living Arts.
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