Category Archives: MusicCentral

Violinist/Violist Unkyoung Kim to Bring Abendmusik Alexandria’s Second Season to A Spectacular Close at Noble Visions, April 7
Wednesday, April 6, 2016

“Noble Visions” – the final installment in Abendmusik Alexandria’s second season – is this Thursday, April 7. On the program is Unkyoung Kim, an extraordinary violinist and violist currently on staff at Tulane University in New Orleans. Winner of Vienna’s prestigious Perrenoud Foundation International Music Competition and other awards, Unkyoung Kim is sure to stun when she presents exciting compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach and Paul Hindemith at this Thursday’s Abendmusik.

 

Bach’s impressive Chaconne is one of the masterpieces for solo violin. This single-movement composition featuring an amazing 64 variations over the course of its fifteen minutes has been a favorite showpiece of violin virtuosi for centuries. It is extremely difficult music technically speaking, so has proved a rite of passage for many aspiring violinists. Admirers have called the Chaconne spiritually and emotionally powerful and structurally perfect.

 

Also on Thursday’s program is the Sonata for solo viola, Op. 25 No. 1 by Paul Hindemith, one of twentieth century’s most iconic composers. A violist himself, Paul Hindemith wrote many works for the often neglected viola, and may be considered one of the instrument’s foremost advocates. The viola sonata featured on Thursday’s program finds Hindemith following in the footsteps of Bach in its pioneering solo writing.

 

As a special part of Thursday’s program, Dr. Kim will be joined by her talented niece violinist Eugene Kim and nephew cellist Danny Kim. High school students in Baton Rouge, Eugene and Danny are already quite accomplished themselves considering their young ages.

 

“Noble Visions” begins at 6 PM at the Hearn Stage in Downtown Alexandria; doors open at 5:30. Tickets are only $10.00 and are available in advance through TicketCentral or by calling the Arts Council of Central Louisiana at 318 443 4718. Appetizers and a cash bar by Southern Creations Catering are also available.

 

Don’t miss Thursday’s exciting concert!  And, if you enjoy chamber music, there is still more to come!  Stay tuned for my next MusicCentral blog all about the inaugural Sugarmill Music Festival to be held in Alexandria this May!

 

Read more of Jackson’s music writings and keep up with local music at Jackson’s new website: www.JacksonHarmeyer.com.

– Jackson Harmeyer

 

Click here to read older posts

 

Jackson New 01Jackson Harmeyer is a composer, music scholar, and advocate of music. He is a graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College – Louisiana’s designated honors college located on the campus of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. While there, Jackson 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, Louisiana, 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, blogs at MusicCentral, and continues to study other aspects of music in his spare time. His four-movement Suite for Solo Guitar, Op. 21 received its world premiere on November 5, 2015 at Abendmusik Alexandria.

 

Jackson is one of TicketCentral’s volunteer bloggers for the 2015-16 season.




Shreveport Opera to Stage Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore this Saturday, February 20
Wednesday, February 17, 2016

This Saturday, I’m looking forward to heading north for the Shreveport Opera’s production of H.M.S. Pinafore by the dynamic duo of British light opera, librettist W.S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan. H.M.S. Pinafore is just the latest in a line of Gilbert and Sullivan operas staged by the Shreveport Opera in recent years: last February, the company produced the duo’s Pirates of Penzance and, two years ago, they gave The Mikado in an unforgettable and imaginative contemporary staging with guest appearances by Japanese pop icons Godzilla and Pikachu. Based on this excellent track record, I have high hopes for this weekend’s H.M.S. Pinafore.

 

In this hilarious opera, Captain Corcoran of the British vessel H.M.S. Pinafore insists his daughter Josephine marry Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty. Josephine, however, loves another – lower-class sailor Ralph Rackstraw. Silliness ensues and the story’s larger subtext transforms H.M.S. Pinafore into a witty parody of British society in the Victorian era. Premiered in 1878, H.M.S. Pinafore was Gilbert and Sullivan’s fourth operatic collaboration and their first international sensation.

 

Saturday’s production by the Shreveport Opera is led by director Dean Anthony and conductor Jerome Shannon. Shreveport Opera resident artists Suzanne Grogan and John Riesen play lovers Josephine and Ralph Rackstraw while guests Stephen Quint and Christian Bowers play Sir Joseph Porter and Captain Corcoran, respectively. The Shreveport Symphony Orchestra will accompany the stage action live from the orchestra pit. H.M.S. Pinafore is sung in English, although English supertitles will also be projected above the stage.

 

One of the things I love most about the Shreveport Opera’s productions is their vibrancy. So often we incorrectly assume opera is all about that fat lady in the horned helmet desperately singing as loudly as she can muster. That’s not reality though, and it’s not what you get in Shreveport! In Shreveport, the singers are in prime physical shape (some run marathons in their spare time) and the lively productions are complemented by colorful backdrops and fanciful costumes. There’s plenty of stage action and – with everything so full of excitement – productions draw as many children and young adults as the older patrons you would expect to see.

 

 

How does this magic happen? It happens because the Shreveport Opera has cultivated a thriving musical community around itself through its educational outreach, themed opera dinners, and other fundraising activities. Despite everything else they do, they have not lowered their artistic standards and their three annual opera productions remain the core activities of this impressive organization. The Shreveport Opera has made itself – and music – a part of daily life in North Louisiana.

 

 

I am always thrilled to make the drive north from Alexandria to attend the fantastic Shreveport Opera productions. In fact, I consider the Shreveport Opera our local opera company here in Central Louisiana too! Hope to see you in Shreveport this Saturday! H.M.S. Pinafore starts at 7:30 PM at the RiverView Theater in downtown Shreveport. Buy your tickets here!

 

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In case you cannot make it to Shreveport this weekend, remember, Louisiana College will stage another Gilbert and Sullivan favorite this March. Pirates of Penzance will run at Louisiana College’s Martin Performing Arts Center in Pineville March 10 through 20 with evening shows beginning at 7 PM Thursday through Saturday and matinees starting at 2 PM on Sundays. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit TicketCentral.

 

Read more of Jackson’s music writings and keep up with local music at Jackson’s new website: www.JacksonHarmeyer.com.

– Jackson Harmeyer

 

Click here to read older posts

 

Jackson New 01Jackson Harmeyer is a composer, music scholar, and advocate of music. He is a graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College – Louisiana’s designated honors college located on the campus of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. While there, Jackson 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, Louisiana, 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, blogs at MusicCentral, and continues to study other aspects of music in his spare time. His four-movement Suite for Solo Guitar, Op. 21 received its world premiere on November 5, 2015 at Abendmusik Alexandria.

 

Jackson is one of TicketCentral’s volunteer bloggers for the 2015-16 season.




Abendmusik Alexandria Offers an Exciting Evening of Low Brass at Infinite Possibilities, February 4
Wednesday, February 3, 2016

“Infinite Possibilities” – the next installment in the highly-praised Abendmusik Alexandria chamber music series – is this Thursday, February 4. At this exciting concert, Masahito Kuroda will introduce audiences to the past, present, and future of the euphonium, a sometimes overlooked brass instrument with connections to the tuba. All aspects of this low brass instrument will be explored, from the euphonium’s history in wind bands to electrifying depictions of its future.

 

Included on Thursday’s program is music by Herbert L. Clarke, sometimes called the world’s greatest cornetist who played with the legendary American wind bands of John Philip Sousa and Victor Herbert. Clarke’s stunning Fantasy, Theme, and Variations on “Carnival of Venice” will be performed Thursday. The grand experiment Sonatina for euphonium and synthesizer by John Boda will also be heard, as will two exciting arrangements of classical masterpieces for euphonium ensemble created by Dr. Kuroda himself.

 

 

These familiar pieces by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Dmitri Shostakovich are heard like never before in these arrangements by Kuroda employing multiple euphoniums (with and without mutes), bass trumpet, marching baritone, and the distinctive double-bell euphonium which is at once a euphonium and a trombone. Through the use of audio and video technologies, Kuroda will accompany himself in these original creations. Kuroda will in fact bring a variety of low brass instruments to show off.

Dr. Masahito Kuroda is professor of low brass and music technology at Northwestern State University. He often combines these two interests, and has done extensive research into enhancing the euphonium repertoire through modern technology. A dedicated musician and scholar, his primary interest is to enrich the expression and musical vocabulary of his instruments.

 

“Infinite Possibilities” begins at 6 PM at the Hearn Stage in Downtown Alexandria; doors open at 5:30. Tickets are only $10.00 and are available in advance through TicketCentral or by calling the Arts Council of Central Louisiana at 318 443 4718. Appetizers and a cash bar by Southern Creations Catering are also available.

 

Don’t miss Thursday’s exciting concert! Also be sure to catch “A Musical Journey” with guitarist John De Chiaro on March 3 and Abendmusik Alexandria’s season finale “Noble Visions” featuring violinist/violist Unkyoung Kim on April 7. Learn more at Abendmusik Alexandria’s new Facebook page!

 

Read more of Jackson’s music writings and keep up with local music at Jackson’s new website: www.JacksonHarmeyer.com.

 

– Jackson Harmeyer

 

Click here to read older posts

 

Jackson New 01Jackson Harmeyer is a composer, music scholar, and advocate of music. He is a graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College – Louisiana’s designated honors college located on the campus of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. While there, Jackson 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, Louisiana, 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, blogs at MusicCentral, and continues to study other aspects of music in his spare time. His four-movement Suite for Solo Guitar, Op. 21 received its world premiere on November 5, 2015 at Abendmusik Alexandria.

 

Jackson is one of TicketCentral’s volunteer bloggers for the 2015-16 season.




Rapides Symphony Orchestra to Present an Afternoon of Italian Classics, January 31
Wednesday, January 27, 2016

This Sunday, January 31 the Rapides Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Giancarlo De Lorenzo present the “RSO Chamber Players.” At this special concert, Maestro De Lorenzo will share with Central Louisiana the music of his homeland – Italy – making this an afternoon of Italian classics with music by such greats as Antonio Vivaldi and Ottorino Respighi.

 

Known foremost for his Four Seasons, Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) wrote a wealth of concerti – more than 300 amazingly enough! These include the guitar concerto which John De Chiaro performed alongside the RSO at last season’s holiday concert as well as the flute concerto soloist Judith Hand will perform with our orchestra Sunday. This flute concerto is called Il gardellino, or in English “The Goldfinch,” and one can almost hear the sprightly song and nimble flight of this bird in Vivaldi’s solo writing.

 

Also featured on Sunday’s program is music by Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936), a composer whose stunningly beautiful suites and concerti helped Italy establish a new orchestral repertoire in the opening decades of the twentieth century. These orchestral scores are always wonderfully colorful and at times can also be bombastic – think, for example, his Roman Festivals. Sunday we will hear two Respighi scores, including the Third Suite of Ancient Airs and Dances for strings alone and his Three Botticelli Pictures for a wider orchestral lineup.

 

A music historian as well as a composer, Respighi explores both aspects of his career in these brilliant works: while Ancient Airs and Dances is based on guitar and lute music of the 1500s and 1600s, the Botticelli Pictures recreate paintings by Italian artist Sandro Botticelli who worked in Florence during the early Renaissance. To speak on Respighi’s inspirations in visual art, the RSO is joined by Catherine Pears, director of the Alexandria Museum of Art.

 

 


Tickets to “RSO Chamber Players” can be purchased online here or by calling the Orchestra at 318.442.9709. Concert starts at 2:30 PM at downtown Alexandria’s beautiful Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center. Learn even more about Sunday’s repertoire in the informative program notes I have prepared, available online here.

 

Sunday’s concert will be a beautiful way for the Rapides Symphony Orchestra to start its new year – a year which will also welcome its Fiftieth Anniversary celebrations this fall. Until then, also be sure to catch upcoming concerts “Variations on a Theme” on March 12 and “The Magic Flute” on May 7. Stay tuned to MusicCentral for more inside looks into Central Louisiana’s vibrant music community!

 

Read more of Jackson’s music writings and keep up with local music at Jackson’s new website: www.JacksonHarmeyer.com.

 

– Jackson Harmeyer

 

Click here to read older posts

 

Jackson New 01Jackson Harmeyer is a composer, music scholar, and advocate of music. He is a graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College – Louisiana’s designated honors college located on the campus of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. While there, Jackson 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, Louisiana, 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, blogs at MusicCentral, and continues to study other aspects of music in his spare time. His four-movement Suite for Solo Guitar, Op. 21 received its world premiere on November 5, 2015 at Abendmusik Alexandria.

 

Jackson is one of TicketCentral’s volunteer bloggers for the 2015-16 season.




An Interview with Composer Kermit Poling upon the Premiere of his Shreveport Symphony
Tuesday, January 19, 2016

This Saturday, January 23 the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra will premiere a new work by Kermit Poling – Associate Conductor of the Shreveport Symphony and General Manager of Red River Radio. This will be Mr. Poling’s Symphony No. 1 subtitled Shreveport Symphony, and its premiere will mark a major highlight in both Poling’s career and the SSO’s 2015-16 season. I had the chance to speak with Mr. Poling about his new piece – about his artistic inspirations for the symphony as well as what the opportunity to write this piece has meant to the community. The following are questions I posed to Mr. Poling as well as his enlightening responses.

 

How did this commission arise? I went to the studio of Neil Johnson – Arts Columnist with the Shreveport Times – for a photo shoot and we started talking about music. He asked if I had ever composed a full symphony for the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra and I commented that I had never been asked. I have, of course, written several ballets for the Shreveport Metropolitan Ballet and other pieces for the Shreveport Summer Music Festival and elsewhere in the country, but never really had an official “commission” for a serious work by the SSO. From that point on, Neil must have made it his mission to make sure it got accomplished. He contacted Mike McCarthy – a generous supporter of the arts in Shreveport – to join him in the commission and worked it out with Michael Butterman – SSO Music Director – and the Orchestra and, well, here we are.

 

Your symphony is dedicated to the memory of the late Virginia Shehee. What was your relationship with her, and how did she make Shreveport a better place for music and the arts? Anyone who spent any time working for the SSO was aware of Virginia and her love for both the Shreveport Symphony and the Shreveport community. The first time I really got to speak with her was in her limousine. It was after a parade and she stopped to pick up some of the musicians who were walking back to get to our cars. When she knew me mostly as a player she’d always say “hello,” and she’d often ask me to play songs I really didn’t know… “Jambalaya on the Bayou,” “Tennessee Waltz” – that sort of stuff. I think it amused her to see me stall a bit. Years later, especially during the years I served as the SSO Interim Music Director, we worked much closer on everything from season planning to budgeting. She was an amazing person and did so much for this community – and the SSO. I feel fortunate to have known her.

 

This is your first symphony. Have you ever written a piece on this scale before? Scale is a bit hard to define. My ballets – all six of them – are certainly much longer works. My string suites and string quartets are probably more similar in length, but they also have shorter movements. As far as strictly orchestral concert pieces go, my Civil War work is probably the closest but that is for narrators with orchestra. Giving some consideration to the “form” of a symphony, this is certainly my first work like it.

 

What is the movement structure like – traditional four movements or a more progressive layout? It’s in four movements – intentionally – as most of my other works are not.

 

About how long is the symphony? What is its orchestration? The piece is about 28 minutes long, the length requested by Michael Butterman. Instrumentation is “full symphony” without breaking the bank.

 

What has it been like writing a symphony? Were there specific models which inspired you? The biggest challenge was getting started. I wasn’t working from narratives or storylines, although I gave some consideration towards finding poems as an inspiration. Ultimately I just reflected on our city and chose four ideas that I thought would work well. I didn’t consciously model my work after another composer, although I can hear a little Copland, David Diamond, Michael Torke, and Tchaikovsky in places. How’s that for a combination?

 

Are there particular melodies, motives, or themes we should be listening for? Does the subtitle “Shreveport” give any clues? The movement titles – the first is “Sunrise on Cross Lake and Drive into Town” – are pretty descriptive of what they represent. “Walk Through Oakland Cemetery,” “Azaleas,” and “Red River” are the other three. There are some musical kernels within several movements – bugle calls (taps) in the Oakland movement; “Tennessee Waltz” and “When the Saints Go Marching In” in the last (and elsewhere). Only in one place do I feel the referred-to tune is particularly obvious, but I guess we’ll see.

 

How do you see this work in relation to other compositions you have written? Is there an artistic progression – ballets, string quartets, smaller orchestral works, etc.? I always hope my next piece is better than my last, but I have no idea how to define better. I love orchestral music – of all sizes and shapes. I guess it’s like a painter who enjoys working in oils. You might do other works, but you have your favorite medium and the symphony orchestra is mine.

 

 

Have you been involved in the premiere as either conductor or concertmaster, or will Saturday be your first time hearing the work live? I have been fortunate to have conducted every single one of my premieres and Michael gave me the option of doing this one too. But I really, really wanted to sit back and hear the premiere this time. Michael does great work with new music, and I know he will do magnificently for this.

 

What other compositions are you working on now or will be in the near future? The next immediate piece is a guitar concerto for John De Chiaro – a classical guitarist based in Alexandria and a longtime friend – that premieres this June. My next ballet is supposed to be an adaptation of Camelot.

 

Would you be interested in writing another symphony if the opportunity arose? Absolutely!

 

Are there any other thoughts you would like to share? I am so grateful that I have friends in the community who care enough about my work to continue giving me opportunities to create these pieces. I can’t tell you what it means to me to have the SSO and Michael perform this, and for Neil Johnson and Mike McCarthy to have commissioned it… I don’t have the words.

 

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Kermit Poling’s Shreveport Symphony will receive its world premiere at the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra’s Wideman Piano Competition 65th Anniversary Celebration concert on Saturday, January 23 as part of the Willis-Knighton Masterworks Series. Competition winners Stanislav Khristenko and Tomer Gewirtzman will join the SSO as they perform Shostakovich’s Second Piano Concerto and Grieg’s Piano Concerto, respectively. The concert begins at 7:30 PM at the RiverView Theater in Downtown Shreveport. Tickets start at $19.00 and are available for purchase here. Hope to see you at the concert!

 

Read more of Jackson’s music writings and keep up with local music at Jackson’s new website: www.JacksonHarmeyer.com.

 

– Jackson Harmeyer

 

Click here to read older posts

 

 

Jackson New 01Jackson Harmeyer is a composer, music scholar, and advocate of music. He is a graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College – Louisiana’s designated honors college located on the campus of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. While there, Jackson 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, Louisiana, 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, blogs at MusicCentral, and continues to study other aspects of music in his spare time. His four-movement Suite for Solo Guitar, Op. 21 received its world premiere on November 5, 2015 at Abendmusik Alexandria.

 

Jackson is one of TicketCentral’s volunteer bloggers for the 2015-16 season.




Abendmusik Alexandria’s An Evening of Romantic Song This Thursday, January 7
Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Abendmusik Alexandria’s first concert of the new year “An Evening of Romantic Song” is this Thursday, January 7. The concert features soprano D’nissa Hester and pianist Elena Bogaczová, two stunning musicians on the faculty of Northwestern State University. While Mrs. Hester is a newcomer to Abendmusik, this will be Ms. Bogaczová’s third time playing at Abendmusik: Ms. Bogaczová was part of the outstanding trio that played for a full house at September’s highly-praised “Meeting of the Minds.”

 

At “An Evening of Romantic Song,” Hester and Bogaczová will treat audiences to an array of love songs, complementing the intimate setting patrons have come to expect from Abendmusik. Together with Abendmusik’s comfortable cabaret seating, delicious appetizers, and cash bar, “An Evening of Romantic Song” is perhaps the best date night presented by Abendmusik yet.

 

The songs are by some of the nineteenth-century’s greatest composers, including Franz Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, and his wife Clara Schumann. The last of these is just one of the several women composers whose music is included on Thursday’s program. Pauline Viardot is another female composer whose “Fleur desséchée” will be heard Thursday. With the songs by these female composers, listeners will enjoy hearing the perspectives on love by both female and male composers.

 

Don’t miss this great concert! Tickets are available in advance through TicketCentral or by calling the Arts Council of Central Louisiana at 318 443 4718. Tickets are only $10.00 and there is a $5.00 appetizer option available featuring delicious blackened chicken pasta by Southern Creations Catering. “An Evening of Romantic Song” begins at 6 PM at the Hearn Stage in Downtown Alexandria; doors open at 5:30.

 

Upcoming concerts this season include “Infinite Possibilities” on February 4, “A Musical Journey” on March 3, and “Noble Visions” on April 7. Featured musicians are Masahito Kuroda (euphonium), John De Chiaro (guitar), and Unkyoung Kim (violin/viola), respectively. Keep up with Abendmusik Alexandria on Facebook, and remember to stay tuned to MusicCentral for personal insights into all of the great musical activities here in Central Louisiana.

 

Read more of Jackson’s music writings and keep up with local music at Jackson’s new website: www.JacksonHarmeyer.com.

 

Visit Abendmusik Alexandria’s new Facebook page.

 

– Jackson Harmeyer

 

Click here to read older posts

 

 

Jackson New 01Jackson Harmeyer is a composer, music scholar, and advocate of music. He is a graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College – Louisiana’s designated honors college located on the campus of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. While there, Jackson 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, Louisiana, 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, blogs at MusicCentral, and continues to study other aspects of music in his spare time. His four-movement Suite for Solo Guitar, Op. 21 received its world premiere on November 5, 2015 at Abendmusik Alexandria.

 

Jackson is one of TicketCentral’s volunteer bloggers for the 2015-16 season.




Meeting of the Minds to Launch Abendmusik Alexandria’s Exciting Second Season
Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Abendmusik Meeting of the Minds Slider 03The second season of Abendmusik Alexandria starts this Thursday, September 3 with Meeting of the Minds.  This spectacular concert will feature violinist Lin He, cellist Paul Christopher, and pianist Elena Bogaczová – all veterans of our first season – for two great piano trios by the classical masters Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonín Dvořák, plus a piece by contemporary Louisiana composer Al Benner.  Hosted by the Arts Council of Central Louisiana, Abendmusik Alexandria presents classical chamber music live in a comfortable jazz club setting complete with food and drinks.  Meeting of the Minds is set to begin at 6 PM in Downtown Alexandria’s Hearn Stage; doors open at 5:30.

 

Thursday’s concert starts with Mozart’s Divertimento for piano trio – a nice early work by the composer who set the standard for the piano trio genre.  Dvořák’s tragic Second Piano Trio concludes the concert, and in between Mozart and Dvořák we have a piece by Natchitoches composer Al Benner.  An award-winning composer with over 120 works to his credit, Benner teaches at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts.  His Grace Variations are to be heard on Thursday’s program, and are based on the beloved hymn tune “Amazing Grace.”  Dr. Benner plans to be with us at Thursday evening’s concert.  He is the first of four Louisiana composers whose music will be heard this season at Abendmusik.

 

[caption id="attachment_5520" align="alignleft" width="250"]Lin He Photo 02 Violinist Lin He is concertmaster of the Rapides Symphony Orchestra and a professor at LSU.[/caption]

Lin He and Paul Christopher are known locally as two of the core players with the Rapides Symphony OrchestraDr. He is concertmaster while Mr. Christopher serves as assistant principal cello.  Dr. He is also a professor at LSU while both Mr. Christopher and Ms. Bogaczová are on the music faculty at Northwestern State University.  All three have given highly-praised concerts around the world, so we are privileged to have them here with us in Alexandria this Thursday evening.

 

Last week I had the chance to hear a sneak preview of what these musicians have planned for us when I sat in with them for their rehearsal.  Dr. He drove in from Baton Rouge; Mr. Christopher and Ms. Bogaczová headed down from Natchitoches; and our friends at Emmanuel Baptist Church were kind enough to host us for the afternoon – we were all good to go.  Let me say, the Dvořák Second Trio was a real treat, and the pieces by Mozart and Benner were nothing shabby either.  I think everyone who attends is going to just love this concert!  What a great way to start the season!

 

[caption id="attachment_5525" align="alignright" width="300"]Elena and Paul Photo 14 (Edited) Cellist Paul Christopher and Pianist Elena Bogaczová are on the music faculty at NSU. Christopher also plays for the Rapides Symphony Orchestra.[/caption]

Our first season of Abendmusik Alexandria was extraordinary – we filled the house at nearly every concert, and everyone there enjoyed the great music.  I expect the second season of Abendmusik Alexandria to be even more outstanding!  Join us from the very start this Thursday at Meeting of the Minds!

 

Visit Abendmusik Alexandria’s new Facebook page.

 

Read the informative program notes I have prepared.

 

P. S. Look for Paul Christopher and me on tomorrow morning’s news programs. We’ll be on Jambalaya and Good Day Cenla tomorrow discussing Thursday’s concert, and Paul might even play a short piece for us!

 

– Jackson Harmeyer

 

Click here to read older posts

 

 

Jackson New 01Jackson 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.

 

Jackson is one of TicketCentral’s volunteer bloggers for the 2015-16 season.




Fall Music Highlights – Fred Child, Ronnie Kole, Abendmusik, LIPC, and More!
Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The summer dry spell has nearly passed, and it is time we get excited about all the great music coming this fall!  Here are some highlights of the events our leading local music organizations will be presenting…

 

ACCL Fred Child Slider 02Saturday, October 3, none other than Fred Child will be here in Alexandria!  Perhaps the most exciting event this fall, Live in Alexandria! Fred Child, Host of Performance Today will feature performances by local musicians and discussion with Fred Child, host of Performance Today (America’s most popular classical music radio program – visit his website to listen to clips from his show!).  Thanks to Red River Radio and the Arts Council of Central Louisiana, Fred Child is on his way to Alexandria.  Live performances will be given by classical guitarist John De Chiaro, a brass quintet assembled by Maestro Joshua Zona of the Rapides Symphony Orchestra, and a special appearance by pianist Asiya Korepanova – the 2012 Gold Medalist in Shreveport’s Wideman International Piano CompetitionTickets are available now!  And, purchasers of Patron Level tickets will even have the chance to meet Fred Child at an exclusive patron party before the show.

 

RSO Pops 2015 Slider 02The Rapides Symphony Orchestra begins its 49th Season on September 26 with their annual Pops on the River.  This year’s Pops is back at the Alexandria Amphitheater on the Red, and features jazz pianist Ronnie Kole alongside our local symphony orchestra.  A living legend of New Orleans jazz, Kole’s repertoire includes standards by Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, and Cole Porter plus a host of original compositions and arrangements.  Pops on the River will only be the start to another great season presented by the Rapides Symphony Orchestra!

 

Abendmusik Fall 2015 Poster (Web Small; JPEG)If you’re looking for even more great classical music – in a more intimate setting – the Arts Council of Central Louisiana invites you to its Second Season of Abendmusik Alexandria.  Abendmusik features many of the same talented musicians who play with the RSO, but one, two, or three musicians at a time.  Concerts are in a casual jazz club setting with food and drinks served.  Abendmusik strives to introduce audiences to music they might not have heard before, but that they are sure to love.  Special for this year, Abendmusik will feature music by four Louisiana composers actively composing around our state today.  Two composers live in Natchitoches, another is based in Shreveport, and the other one happens to be me!  Definitely come in November to hear the world premiere of my Suite for Solo Guitar.  The excitement, however, begins next month on September 3 with Meeting of the Minds, featuring RSO concertmaster Lin He, cellist Paul Christopher, and pianist Elena Bogaczová for music by Mozart, Dvořák, and Natchitoches composer Al Benner.

 

LIPC 2015 Artist Entry Poster 01 (Edited)It’s also an LIPC year!  For the past ten years, the Louisiana International Piano Competition has brought world-class pianists from across the globe to Central Louisiana.  This October, LIPC is back for its Sixth Biennial Competition!  An amazing 57 pianists have already applied to compete!  A week filled with solo recitals will be followed by the exciting Final Round where the top three pianists will play full concerti alongside the Rapides Symphony Orchestra.

 

Otherwise, the Red River Chorale is gearing up for their season too!  If you would like to sing with them this year, Auditions are August 24.  The Alexandria Museum of Art will also have their annual fundraiser Live Blues, Craft Brews, & Fiery BBQs on August 22.  If you like blues, this is the event for you, featuring a live performance by Shreveport bluesman Buddy Flett!

 

There’s plenty to do in Alexandria this fall – and these are just a few of the highlights!  So, stay tuned to MusicCentral for more info about these and other upcoming events this fall!

 

– Jackson Harmeyer

 

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Jackson New 01Jackson 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.

 

Jackson is one of TicketCentral’s volunteer bloggers for the 2015-16 season.




Monty Python’s Spamalot Live on Stage in Alexandria, June 5-7
Tuesday, June 2, 2015

LBM Spmalot Poster 01s (JPEG)This weekend LBM Productions will present a musical unlike any other to ever hit the stage in Central Louisiana.  Friday, June 5 through Sunday, June 7, LBM will present Spamalot – as the tagline goes, a musical lovingly ripped off from the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

 

I’m a big fan of Monty Python – from the films to the Flying Circus – so I was thrilled when I heard LBM was bringing Spamalot to Alexandria.  Then, director Laine Miller recruited me to be part of the cast too.  It’s a minor role – just Guard 2 – but it has been great fun being there for rehearsals and watching the cast go through the familiar scenes.  I’m not much of an actor anyway, so Guard 2 is perfect for me!

 

Most of you are probably familiar with The Holy Grail, but you might not know its musical adaptation SpamalotSpamalot was created by Python-veteran Eric Idle and his long-time collaborator John Du Prez.  It premiered on Broadway in 2005, and has since then been seen on stages across the world.  Spamalot keeps much from the original movie, but also adds brand new characters like the Lady of the Lake and borrows material from other Python sketches like the song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Life of Brian.  Audience members will be surprised both by how much is familiar and how much is new.

 

There’s of course plenty of great music… the minstrels’ unnecessarily graphic tribute to their not-so-courageous leader “Brave Sir Robin”… the iconic “Monk’s Chant” where the robed procession alternates between meditative Gregorian chant and slapping their heads with chant books… and the show-stopping romp “Knights of the Round Table.”  A new song written for Spamalot, “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway,” has quickly become one of my favorites as Sir Robin sings and dances about the imagined requirements for successfully staging a Broadway musical.

 

Best yet, LBM Productions has recruited a team of musicians to play as a pit orchestra.  It has always amazed me that theatre companies are willing to spend so much time and effort rehearsing their actors and building sets, but are willing to settle for recorded soundtracks.  On the contrary, LBM Productions has chosen to use a sizeable pit orchestra led by keyboardist Michael Sterne and including flute, trumpets, trombone, bass, and percussion.  This pit orchestra has been a great addition and hopefully other local theatre companies will follow suit!

 

See Monty Python’s Spamalot live at Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center June 5-7.  Shows begin at 8 PM on Friday and Saturday, and Sunday’s matinee begins at 3 PM.  LBM Productions has quite a show in store, so don’t miss this once in a lifetime chance to see Spamalot live in Alexandria!

 

– Jackson Harmeyer

 

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Jackson New 01Jackson Harmeyer is a graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College – Louisiana’s designated honors college located on the campus of Northwestern State University.  There, he studied music history, completing an undergraduate thesis entitled “Learning from the Past:  The Influence of Johann Sebastian Bach upon the Soviet Composers.”  Now living in Alexandria, he continues to pursue his musical interests through individual research, original compositions, writing program notes for the Rapides Symphony Orchestra, and as director of the new Abendmusik Alexandria music series.  He is also one of the founding members of TicketCentral.

 

Jackson is one of TicketCentral’s team of volunteer bloggers for the 2014-2015 season.




Grand Finales – This Week’s Offerings from the Alexandria Youth Orchestra, Red River Chorale, & Rapides Symphony Orchestra
Tuesday, May 5, 2015

string_extravaganza_sliderThis 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.

 

RRC Celebrating Ten Years Poster (JPEG)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.  RSO Beyond Borders Poster (JPEG)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.

 

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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!

 

– Jackson Harmeyer

 

Click here to read older posts

 

 

Jackson New 01Jackson Harmeyer is a graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College – Louisiana’s designated honors college located on the campus of Northwestern State University.  There, he studied music history, completing an undergraduate thesis entitled “Learning from the Past:  The Influence of Johann Sebastian Bach upon the Soviet Composers.”  Now living in Alexandria, he continues to pursue his musical interests through individual research, original compositions, writing program notes for the Rapides Symphony Orchestra, and as director of the new Abendmusik Alexandria music series.  He is also one of the founding members of TicketCentral.

 

Jackson is one of TicketCentral’s team of volunteer bloggers for the 2014-2015 season.