URI’s Holiday Concert & more wrap up semester’s music offerings

KINGSTON, R.I.–November 21, 2007– Four consecutive days of concerts will conclude the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Music fall semester offerings. The URI Concert Band, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and the small choral concert ensemble, Lively Experiment, will be featured in separate concerts Dec. 7 through 10. The URI Symphony Orchestra and the University Chorus combine their efforts on Dec. 8 to present the university’s annual Holiday Concert.

For each of the three weekend concerts Dec. 7, 8, and 9, admission is $8 for the general public, $2 for students. Seating for all concerts is on a first-come basis. The box office opens 45 minutes before the concert.

The first concert, showcasing the URI Concert Band on Friday evening, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m., will offer a multi-cultural program of contemporary pieces that draw on older sources, ranging from Russian, Cajun, and Latin American-inspired dances and folk-tunes to an instrumental Chorale and Alleluia by Howard Hanson and a piece by David Gillingham that weaves an original Irish tune around Slane, the well-known Irish tune for the hymn Be Thou My Vision. Brian Cardany will conduct.

The annual Holiday Concert will be on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m., slightly earlier than other department concerts to accommodate families who wish to attend with children. This year’s concert will be a collaboration between the URI Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ann Danis, and the University Chorus, conducted by Nathan Zullinger.

The University Chorus will present three international holiday pieces, Maringa Krismes, a Sierra Leone folksong; African Noel by Andre Thomas; and Ave Maria in a setting by South American composer Javier Busto. The URI Symphony Orchestra will perform the Russian Christmas Music of Alfred Reed and some holiday favorites. The two ensembles will combine to perform Fantasia on Christmas Carols by Ralph Vaughan Williams with baritone Rene de la Garza, a member of the URI voice faculty, as featured soloist, and also to offer And the Glory of the Lord (from Handel’s Messiah)” along with what Danis calls, “a smashing holiday finale.”

On Sunday, Dec. 9, at 3 p.m. the URI Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Small Brass Ensemble will perform. The Symphonic Wind Ensemble consists of the most outstanding wind and percussion players at the university, selected by audition. Since its inception in 1963, the Wind Ensemble has been dedicated to presenting the finest literature from all musical periods to its audiences. It has performed at the Music Educators National Conference, the College Band Directors National Association Conference, and the New England Wind Festival.

The Small Brass Ensemble will open the concert with the Sonata For Horn, Trumpet And Trombone by the 20th century French composer, Francis Poulenc. Poulenc was one of “Les Six”, a group of six French composers whose music represented a strong reaction against the heavy German Romantic music of Wagner and Strauss, as well as the French Impressionists, Debussy and Ravel. The Symphonic Wind Ensemble will open their portion of the concert with the premier of director Gene Pollart’s latest composition, Echoes And Reflections, a set of variations based on the familiar Appalachian folk song, “Simple Gifts” and characterized by shifts in mood between a lively rhythmic effect and a feeling of solitude.

The program will continue with Gustav Holst’s In The Bleak Midwinter, Holst’s most beloved Christmas carol, set to words by Christina Rosetti in 1874; Aaron Copland’s Down A Country Lane, which began as a solo piano work commissioned by Life Magazine in 1962 and was later arranged for concert band by Merlin Patterson; and the final work on the program, Symphony No. 5 1/2 by Don Gillis. Subtitled A Symphony for Fun, the piece was originally composed for the NBC Orchestra, where Gillis worked under the famous conductor Arturo Toscanini as composer and conductor. The work features folk and jazz influences as well as a western hoedown. Maurice Ford completed the concert band transcription in 1967.

On Monday, Dec. 10, the vocal ensemble Lively Experiment will perform the final concert of the semester at 7:30 p.m., with free admission. URI’s premier small choral ensemble sings works in styles ranging from Medieval to jazz, under the direction of Mark Conley, and often perform for special events at the university and around the state.

All concerts will be held in the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall off Upper College Road on URI’s Kingston campus.