Symphony to present a family show Friday, Winter Concert Saturday and Sunday

The Juneau Symphony will present two separate events this weekend: a special program for kids on Friday called “Doctor Noize Goes Bananas,” and their WInter Concert, “Sounds of River and Sea,” on Saturday and Sunday. Here’s a closer look at both.



Doctor Noize Goes Bananas

For this event, the symphony will be joined by Cory Cullinan, aka Doctor Noize, who will perform family songs and invite kids to share in the creative experience. This performance will include orchestral versions of Cullinan’s songs and classical masterpieces hosted and described by Doctor Noize and Symphony Conductor Kyle Pickett.

Cullinan received degrees in music and political science from Stanford, where he focused on classical music history, electronic music and voice. His music has been featured in mainstream movies, television shows and documentaries, including Brad Pitt’s “Spy Game” and films from the Sundance Film Festival and PB.

As Doctor Noize, Cullinan released “The Ballad Of Phineas McBoof,” which featured a national No. 1 hit song, “Banana,” on XM Sirius Kids Radio, and a book under the same name. Like the recording, the book tells the tale of the great monkey Phineas McBoof and his quest for the impossibly perfect song with his band, The International Band Of Misunderstood Geniuses.

The kids performance begins at 6 p.m. at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium.

All tickets for this show will be pay-as-you-can, with general admission seating.


Sounds of River and Sea

The symphony’s winter concert, Sounds of River and Sea, will explore the music of the water. Featured music will be Smetana’s “The Moldau,” Alan Hovhaness’ “And God created great whales,” and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1, featuring soloist Spencer Myer.

Smetana’s piece, which premiered in 1875, depcits a river in the Czech Republic, his home country, through music.

The composer wrote: “The composition describes the course of the Vltava, starting from the two small springs, the Cold and Warm Vltava, to the unification of both streams into a single current, the course of the Vltava through woods and meadows, through landscapes where a farmer’s wedding is celebrated, the round dance of the mermaids in the night’s moonshine: on the nearby rocks loom proud castles, palaces and ruins aloft. The Vltava swirls into the St John’s Rapids; then it widens and flows toward Prague, past the Vyšehrad, and then majestically vanishes into the distance, ending at the Labe (or Elbe, in German).

“And God created great whales,” one of Hovhaness’ most famous works, combines orchestral music with taped whale songs, recorded from humpback, bowhead and killer whates. Composed in 1970, the piece also depicts the transformation of chaos to beauty, according to one reviewer, and the creation of the earth. Hovhaness himself, in describing the work, said: “Free rhythmless vibrational passages, each string player playing independently, suggest waves in a vast ocean sky. Undersea mountains rise and fall in horns, trombones, and tuba. Music of whales also rises and falls like mountain ranges. Song of whale emerges like a giant mythical sea bird.”

Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 1,” composed in 1891 and revised in 1917, was one of four this famous Russian composer created in his life. Soloist Spencer Myer, winner of the gold medal at the 2008 New Orleans International Piano Competition as well as numerous other awards and fellowships, has performed throughout North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.


More on whales: Renowned whale researcher Jim Darling will lead this week’s University of Alaska Southeast’s Sound and Motion lecture, which begins at 7 p.m. Friday at the Egan Lecture Hall. Darling will present on his research into humpback whale songs, including their structure and composition, similarities and differences across the North Pacific and what it all might mean. For more on this series, visit


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