This week several of our leading music presenters in Central Louisiana will offer local listeners spectacular concerts to end their 2014-15 performance seasons. Tuesday, the Alexandria Youth Orchestra and Red River Chorale will end their seasons on a high note, while the Rapides Symphony Orchestra will bring their season to a close Saturday night. All this activity is sure to make for an exciting week as summer quickly approaches!
Tuesday, May 5 the Alexandria Youth Orchestra will present their String Extravaganza – a concert full of popular favorites – to close-out their school year. This award-winning group under the direction of John De Chiaro won first place honors at the Windy City Classic in Chicago this April, and now brings Central Louisiana much of this same music to conclude their season locally. This student group will perform their stunning renditions of music from Pirates of the Caribbean and Phantom of the Opera, plus a delightful arrangement of the popular song “Aubrey” made by De Chiaro himself. Tuesday’s concert will be at 6 PM at the acoustically-superb Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center in downtown Alexandria.
Tuesday, May 5 also features the Red River Chorale in the final commemorative concert of this choir’s tenth season. Celebrating the Tenth Season of the Red River Chorale will begin at 7:30 PM at St. James Episcopal Church on the corner of Murray and Bolton, and explores the subject “humor in choral music.” Tuesday’s concert features songs like “Eloquence” – set to the music of Joseph Haydn, a composer known for his musical jokes – and the “Neighbors’ Chorus” from La jolie Parfumeuse by the comic genius Jacques Offenbach. Plus, there will be three short pieces by contemporary choral composer Eric Whitacre which set the ridiculous animal poems of Ogden Nash; Whitacre calls these his “Animal Crackers!” With these and other selections and the festivities surrounding the Chorale’s tenth anniversary, Tuesday’s concert is not to be missed!
Saturday, May 9 the Rapides Symphony Orchestra gives its final concert of the season. In this concert titled Beyond Borders, Maestro Joshua Zona and his orchestra offer pieces that defy musical boundaries and will exceed your expectations! George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue is one of the most famous pieces in the classical repertoire these days, yet its jazzy syncopations and sweet popular-music harmonies make it hard to categorize as purely classical music; pianist Pavel Kaspar is featured as the soloist in this famous work. Meanwhile, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol and Ravel’s Boléro find these composers reaching-out to Spanish folk music for inspiration. There is also a piece by contemporary composer Bruce Stark called Overture to New Beginnings which finds this composer reflecting on milestones in his own life and his society. Beyond Borders starts at 7:30 PM on Saturday, May 9 at Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center. Program notes are also available online.
In addition to these classical music offerings locally, those who enjoy blues are also in luck this week. Saturday, May 9 Taking It 2 The Street presents its Little Walter Edition highlighting local blues musicians in anticipation of the Little Walter Music Festival two weeks later on May 23. This annual festival celebrates blues legend and Alexandria native Little Walter, one of the core figures in the Chicago blues movement which electrified this folk genre for the first time in its history. May 9’s blues-themed Taking It 2 The Street will make the perfect prelude to the larger festival in a few weeks!
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.