URI Music Department’s mid-fall concerts feature range of musical styles

KINGSTON, R.I. – Oct. 27, 2022 – The University of Rhode Island Symphony Orchestra will open the mid-fall schedule of the Music Department’s major ensembles with a program fitting for a land-grant university.

The orchestra will present a concert entitled “The Pastoral” on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 8 p.m. in the Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Center, 105 Upper College Road. The title refers to the concert’s selections rather than URI’s history, says new orchestra director Samuel Hollister, who joined URI this fall.

The orchestra’s concert will feature British composer Gerald Finzi’s “Eclogue” for piano and strings and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 6,” two works written in the same key: F major.

“Over the last couple of centuries, F major has come to be associated with ideas of pastoral life—life in the countryside with the beauty of nature, folk song, simple living, and wildlife all around,” said Hollister. “In fact, Beethoven’s 6th Symphony is often referred to simply by this nickname. And ‘Eclogue’ gets its name from a similar concept: an eclogue is a brief poem written on a pastoral subject.”

Hollister says he chose the pieces to challenge and excite the orchestra and because they are filled with “sweet melodies and good feelings”—reflecting his feelings of joining the URI community.

Hollister takes over the 44-piece orchestra—about 30 students and 14 community members—from long-time director Ann Danis, who retired in the spring. Hollister, who grew up in Jamestown, feels right at home.

“I took piano lessons at URI starting at age 7, so these halls are very familiar and comfortable to me,” said Hollister, an artist/teacher in orchestral conducting. “Ann fostered a vibrant and exciting ensemble filled with students, faculty, and community members, and I feel nothing but honored to be able to join this group and continue to expand the vision of university and community music-making that she brought to the ensemble.”

Tickets for the orchestra concert can be purchased at the event webpage.

The fall also features concerts by the University’s Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Jazz Big Band and Concert Choir. Tickets for all shows are $15 for the public and $10 for seniors and students. 

The rest of the lineup

The Wind Ensemble and Concert Band will share the program on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall. Tickets can be purchased at the event webpage.

Brian Cardany, director of bands, added direction of the Wind Ensemble this fall—with the retirement of long-time director Gene Pollart in the spring—to his duties as head of the Concert Band, and chose to have the ensembles share concerts this school year.

“One benefit for both groups is that it should increase the audience that each group will have during their performance,” he said. “I think it is good for members of the ensembles to see each other perform so that they can hear more repertoire and support other ensembles in the program. Also, a significant number of members participate in both ensembles and this helps reduce the number of concerts they must perform in each semester.”

The 24-member Wind Ensemble will perform a half dozen works from the British military band tradition of the early 20th century, including William P. Latham’s “Brighton Beach March,” “William Byrd Suite” by Gordon Jacob, and closing with Percy A. Grainger’s “Molly on the Shore.” The 45-member Concert Band’s program has the theme of America, opening with Rossano Galante’s “Beyond the Horizon,” a piece that inspires beautiful vistas, Cardany says. Other works are related to American culture, including James Syler’s “Country Bandstand” and Frank Ticheli’s “Cajun Folk Songs.”

A tribute to late jazz great and 23-time Grammy Award winner Chick Corea will be presented by the Jazz Big Band on Thursday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m. in the Concert Hall. Tickets can be purchased on the event webpage.

“I wanted to do this concert because Chick’s passing caught the jazz community by surprise,” said Big Band director Emmett Goods. “Whenever we lose someone of this magnitude in the music community we tend to mark their passing by playing their music. This was an opportunity to do that and also to educate the students on who he was and the legacy he left the world.”

The Big Band will open with Morgan Lewis’ “How High the Moon” (with vocals by Ricki Rizzo), and include a half-dozen Corea works, such as “Senor Mouse,” “Crystal Silence,” “Captain Marvel,” and “Tones for Joan’s Bones.” The band will be joined by the Jazz Vocal Ensemble, directed by Assistant Teaching Professor Atla DeChamplain, for three closing numbers, including Corea’s “Spain.”

The Concert Choir wraps up the first half of the fall semester’s ensemble concerts with “Do Not Leave Your Cares at the Door” on Thursday, Nov. 17, at 2 p.m. in the Concert Hall. Tickets can be purchased here.

“The themes of the concert addresses head on some of the issues facing us in the world right now, giving people space to work through their own relationships to these issues and how these issues have recurred over the centuries,” said Mark Conley, director of the choir and chair of the Music Department.

Following the metaphor of “doors”—choosing to walk through, having them closed on you, considering which side you’re on—the concert will include new works by Professor of Music Eliane Aberdam, including the choral cycle “Doors.”

The afternoon concert, Conley says, will give students, faculty, staff and other community members a chance to hear the University’s elite choir during regular hours. “We love giving evening concerts,” said Conley. “But we want to see if we can draw more people with a different performance time—trying to open our own ‘doors’ a little wider.” (The concert will be repeated in the evening later in the semester.)

For a full list of concerts being offered this semester, please go to the Music Department’s events page.