There is plenty of great classical music to be performed this week in Central Louisiana. Tomorrow Tuesday, March 10, St. James Episcopal hosts organist James O’Donnell. Saturday, March 14, the Rapides Symphony Orchestra will present its concert A Composer’s Testimony featuring Dmitri Shostakovich’s epic Tenth Symphony plus performances by the winners of the RSO Concerto Competition. And, next Tuesday, March 17, the Red River Chorale and Back Porch Band will give their concert Celebrating Our Celtic Heritage in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. It will be quite a week packed with so much great music!
The concert tomorrow evening at St. James Episcopal is called “The King of Instruments and the Abbey.” This free concert features James O’Donnell – Organist and Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey in London. O’Donnell’s organ recital begins at 7 PM and includes music by Johann Sebastian Bach, César Franck, Marcel Dupré, and Olivier Messiaen. All four of these composers were also regarded as great organists; all but Bach were part of the grand French organ tradition that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century and continued into the twentieth. A special highlight will be the four-movement Symphonie-Passion by Dupré which retells the events surrounding the death and crucifixion of Jesus Christ through its incorporation of Gregorian chant melodies. St. James Episcopal is at the corner of Murray and Bolton near downtown Alexandria.
Saturday’s concert with the Rapides Symphony Orchestra will be just as grand with the boisterous symphony by Shostakovich and two Concerto Competition winners ready to show their stuff. Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich wrote his Tenth Symphony in 1953 upon the death of Joseph Stalin who had ruled over the Soviet Union for more than thirty years. More than half a century later, it still remains unclear if Shostakovich meant this symphony as a dirge mourning the loss of a great leader or an ode celebrating the downfall of a tyrant. Come find out for yourself this Saturday at A Composer’s Testimony! The concert begins at 7:30 PM Saturday, March 14 at Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center. Program notes are also available online.
Nor will you want to miss next Tuesday’s concert with the Red River Chorale and the Back Porch Band. Called Celebrating Our Celtic Heritage, this concert will feature plenty of Irish folk favorites like “Danny Boy” plus artful arrangements of Celtic tunes by today’s leading choral composer John Rutter. The Back Porch Band – made-up of both faculty members at Northwestern State University and “regular blokes” – will share their love of folk instruments with audiences as they play alongside the Chorale at this concert. Celebrating Our Celtic Heritage is Tuesday, March 17 at 7:30 PM at First United Methodist Church on Jackson Street.
Hope to see you at some of these March music events!
About Jackson. Jackson Harmeyer is a music historian and composer. He is a graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College – Louisiana’s designated honors college – where he completed an undergraduate thesis entitled “Learning from the Past: The Influence of Johann Sebastian Bach upon the Soviet Composers.” He has followed classical music around the world, attending the BachFest Leipzig in Germany, Colorado’s Aspen Music Festival, and many concerts across Louisiana and Texas. Resident in Alexandria, Jackson works with the Arts Council of Central Louisiana as Series Director of the Abendmusik Alexandria chamber music series. He also writes the program notes for the Rapides Symphony Orchestra. As his day job, Jackson serves as Operations Manager of TicketCentral.