URI’s Holiday concert & more, Dec. 5 to 9

KINGSTON, R.I.—November 21, 2008–The annual Holiday Concert at the University of Rhode Island has become a tradition with many area families since it began a dozen or so years ago.

This year’s concert, featuring both the URI Symphony Orchestra and the University Chorus, will be performed Saturday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m. in the midst of the end-of-the-semester concerts on the Kingston campus Dec. 5 through 9.

The other concerts are: URI Concert Band, Friday December 5 at 8 p.m.; Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Sunday Dec. 7 at 3 p.m.; and Lively Experiment, URI’s top small vocal ensemble, Tuesday Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Also, a free “Evening Convocation” with performances by a variety of students, will be open to the public on Monday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. All concerts will be held in the university’s Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, 105 Upper College Road, Kingston. Concert admission is $8 for general audience, $2 for students.

The Concert Band, with more than 75 members directed by Brian Cardany, will perform five contemporary works written for band ensembles. Cape Breton Postcard by Catherine McMichael is a strongly Celtic-flavored piece in three movements meant to portray “the integral bond between the land and the soul.” Elegy for a Young American was written in 1964 by Ronald Lo Presti and is dedicated to the memory of President John F. Kennedy. I Am, by Andrew Boysen, is also a memorial work, based on a poem by and commissioned to honor a fallen band member of a high school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The rest of the program includes Night Dances for Wind Ensemble by Bruce Yurko, and Vesuvius a “furious pagan dance” by Frank Ticheli.

The Holiday Concert by the orchestra and chorus features works themed to the season and includes a sing-along with audience participation. Under the guidance of conductor Ann Danis and assistant conductor Brian Cardany, the Symphony Orchestra will perform Concerto Grosso, “Christmas Concerto”, op. 6, no. 8 by Arcangelo Corelli; “Farandole” from L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2, by Georges Bizet; A Christmas Festival Overture and Sleigh Ride, both by Leroy Anderson, and “Canzon noni toni a 12” from Sacrae Symphoniae – Venice, 1597 by Giovanni Gabrielli.

The University Chorus, directed by Andrew Howell, will perform John Rutter’s Gloria with brass and percussion from the University Orchestra and will join the orchestra to lead the audience in a “Sing” of Holiday favorites arranged by John Cacavas.

The Sunday afternoon concert by the Symphonic Wind Ensemble will include Overture To “Candide” and the five-section Candide Suite, from the 1956 Broadway musical by Leonard Bernstein, a comic operetta based on the satiric novella Candide by Voltaire. The work is very rhythmic yet forceful, combining classical and popular styles. The program also includes Solas Ane, a piece by Samuel Hazo that combines dynamic Celtic drumming with flowing lines of woodwind and full band passages, and Roanoke March, a post-Civil War piece written by Carl Weise to celebrate R.I. General Ambrose Burnside’s North Carolina victory. Weise was an accomplished German pianist and teacher who resided in Providence. This march, originally for piano, has been arranged for concert band by URI staff member Gerry Heroux. The final concert piece is Divergents by W. Francis McBeth. Subtitled “A Short Symphony for Band,” it is in the classic symphonic form but scored in a contemporary vein that uses modern wind band extremities in dynamics, tempo, and tone colors.

Lively Experiment, URI’s vocal chamber ensemble, which will perform the Tuesday night concert, explores repertoire from all styles from Medieval to modern jazz.

Seating for all concerts is on a first-come basis. The box office opens 45 minutes before the concert. The concert hall is handicap accessible, and parking is available in the lot behind the Fine Arts Center off Bills Road. For more information, call the URI Music Department at 874-2431.