Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA's Orchestra of the Pines to present 'Musical Portraits'

April 20, 2015 - Robbie Goodrich
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Stephen F. Austin State University's Orchestra of the Pines will present "Musical Portraits" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 25, in Cole Concert Hall of the Wright Music Building on the SFA campus.

Among the highlights of the concert is a performance of Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," arranged by Maurice Ravel. Other program features include a solo performance by Dr. Chris Ayer, SFA professor of clarinet, and the orchestra performing "Gates of the Arctic," written by Dr. Stephen Lias, SFA's composer-in-residence.

Lias composed "Gates of the Arctic" while serving as artist-in-residence at Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska in 2012, according to Dr. Gene H. Moon, director of orchestras at SFA.

"It is a picturesque work that recounts Lias' travels through the park, including sightings of animals and beautiful landscapes," Moon said, adding that Lias' photographic images that accompany the music will be shown during the performance. "The interplay between photos and music creates a carefully crafted tapestry, interwoven in musical mastery."

As guest soloist, Ayer will perform a concerto for clarinet and orchestra written by Swedish composer Daniel Nelson. Moon described Ayer as "skillful in finding new musical gems in the clarinet repertory."

"And he has found a masterpiece in Nelson's work," Moon said. "The concerto is built upon driving rhythmic patterns with a minimalistic quality that evokes intrigue at each turn of the page. A unique feature used in the middle movement calls for our woodwind players to play pitch-specific crystal water glasses toward the conclusion of the movement."

The final work in the concert, Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," is considered to be one of the most well-known works in the classical orchestra repertory, according to Moon. Victor Hartmann was an artist whom Mussorgsky considered a close friend. Upon Hartmann's death, Mussorgsky paid homage to his friend by creating a set of piano pieces based on Hartmann's paintings, Moon said.

"It was Ravel, the master orchestrator, who would later take Mussorgsky's work and set it for the orchestra," he said. "Mussorgsky's original composition for piano was already a masterpiece that conveyed musical representation of Hartmann's artistic renderings. It was Ravel who took that colorful palate and gave it life through the orchestra."

The concert is a presentation of the SFA College of Fine Arts and School of Music. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for students and youth. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit www.finearts.sfasu.edu.