The Juneau Symphony is prepared to please the ears and eyes of Juneau’s music lovers with its winter mainstage concerts, The Tender Land, to be performed at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium Jan. 26 and 27. The second mainstage performances of the Symphony’s 50th anniversary year will boast more than 60 musicians playing pieces by Aaron Copland and Michael Torke, and will feature the Youth Solo Competition winner David Miller performing a violin concerto by Max Bruch. And for the eyes? The Tender Land concerts will feature a special multimedia presentation, created by Roald Simonson, using photographs taken by Juneau fourth-graders and historical footage from the Alaska State Library Historical Archives.
FOR THE EARS
The Tender Land suite by Aaron Copland will be the centerpiece of the performances, which begin 8 p.m. Jan. 26, with the talk beginning at 7 p.m., and 3 p.m. Jan. 27, with the talk beginning at 2 p.m. The Tender Land was originally composed as an opera telling of a farm family in the Midwest of the United States. Copland was said to have been inspired to write this opera after viewing the Depression-era photographs of Walker Evans and reading James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. The orchestral suite based on the opera was compiled by Copland in 1958.
Audiences will also be treated to Bright Blue Music, composed by Michael Torke in 1985, as well as a solo performance by Miller and Copland’s Appalachian Spring.
Seventeen-year-old Miller will perform Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the orchestra. Miller won the Symphony’s 2012 Youth Solo Competition, which offers a grand prize of performing with the Symphony as a soloist. He has played the violin since age 4 and now plays in several local groups, including the Juneau Bach Society, the Amalga Chamber Orchestra and the Juneau Symphony. Music has taken Miller far; he traveled to China with a string ensemble at 13, has played multiple times in the All State Music Fest and in summer he attends an intensive chamber orchestra program in Portland, Ore.
The concerts will close with Appalachian Spring, where audiences may recognize the folk tune “Simple Gifts” woven into the third movement. The ballet Appalachian Spring was the culmination of Copland’s series of “Americana” in dance, having been preceded by Billy the Kid (1938) and Rodeo (1942). The concert suite, arranged by the composer shortly after the ballet’s premiere, was introduced by the New York Philharmonic on October 4, 1945, and won both the Pulitzer Prize in Music and the New York Music Critics’ Circle Award for that year.
One hour prior to each performance, conductor Kyle Wiley Pickett will give an informal lecture about the music, composers and multi-media project and will also answer any questions from the audience. Dubbed ‘Concert Conversations,’ these talks intend to provide audiences with a fuller understanding of the composers’ personalities and greater background stories about the music than can be found in the printed program notes.
FOR THE EYES
In 2012 the Juneau Symphony distributed cameras to fourth grade students in the Juneau School District. The students were asked to take pictures of people, places and things that are important to them and that they would want to share with others. The resulting photographs were collected, sorted and scanned for use in the multimedia presentation. Local filmmaker Roald Simonson will combine more than 100 of these photos with historical videos of the capital city and professional photographs taken throughout the 20th century and choreograph them into a slideshow for the live performance of The Tender Land suite. The slideshow will be shown at both Tender Land performances, at the Symphony’s Family Concert on Jan. 25 and at an assembly performance for all fourth and fifth grade students in the Juneau School District. Simonson and conductor Kyle Pickett have collaborated on similar projects in the past, including the 2004 Juneau Symphony Our Town concert and performances with the North State Symphony in California.
Tickets are on sale now for The Tender Land concerts Jan. 26 and 27. All tickets will have reserved seating. Pay-as-you-can seats will be available at both performances and can be purchased at the door. Tickets are available at Hearthside Books, the Juneau Arts & Culture Center, and online at www.juneausymphony.org. Adult tickets range from $22 to $25, Senior tickets from $17 to $20 and student tickets from $10 to $20. Tickets are also available at the door for $2 more.
For more information vist juneausymphony.org