What’s new with the Juneau Symphony

Editor’s note: About a month ago, the Capital City Weekly interviewed the new Juneau Symphony president Stan Lujan to get to know him and learn what he has planned for the symphony’s upcoming season. In this letter to the editor, Lujan shares what the new season will look like.

 

For the 56th season of the Juneau Symphony, we are presenting a theme of “Northwest Conductors” with four incredibly talented guest conductors. We are honored to continue the tradition of sharing the performance of world-class orchestral music, timeless repertoire, and our talented Juneau musicians, including our chorus.

We will open the season with concerts on Nov. 10 and 11, led by Dr. Dwayne Corbin. Dr. Corbin serves as Associate Professor of Instrumental Music at George Fox University outside of Portland, Oregon. He also serves as the resident conductor of the North State Symphony, where he conducts the annual “Youth Concert Series” for more than 4,000 students a year. Familiar to Juneau’s audiences, he was the interim assistant conductor of the JSO in 2014-15.

The theme of the fall concert is “Symphonic Songs,” a thrilling concert featuring orchestral masterworks inspired by folk songs and operas. The program will include selections from one of the most beloved operas of all time, Bizet’s “Carmen.” Dvorak’s folk-song-inspired “Eighth Symphony” will anchor the program, and Veteran’s Day will be honored with a beautiful rendition of “America the Beautiful.”Perhaps most exciting for our audience will be the return of Juneau violinist Lisa Ibias as our featured concerto soloist, performing works by Saint-Saëns and Arvo Pärt. I look forward to hearing all the instruments of the orchestra sing beautifully in our season opening show!

Our winter concert on Jan. 26 and 27, 2019 is titled “Russian Romantics,” and will be conducted by Dr. Tigran Arakelyan, from Port Townsend, Washington. Dr. Arakelyan is music director of the Northwest Mahler Festival, a summer festival for professionals, students and community musicians performing large-scale works. He is also music and artistic director of Bainbridge Island Youth Orchestras, Federal Way Youth Symphony, and music director for the Port Townsend Community Orchestra.

This concert features “Capriccio Espagnol,” the work of master orchestrator Rimsky-Korasakov and “Capriccio Italien,” a piece inspired by Tchaikovsky’s visit to Rome. The Russian composers explore the rhythms and melodies of foreign lands through masterful use of the orchestra. Juneau’s own young and talented flutist Reece Bleakley, winner of the 2018 Youth Solo Competition, will join the symphony in a performance of Boccherini’s beautiful “Flute Concerto.” Bleakley will also perform at the fifth grade student Carnegie Hall/Link Up concert earlier in that concert week. The program will conclude with Alexander Borodin’s energetic and impassioned “Symphony No. 2.”

In the spring, we will present “Psalms and Fanfares” on April 6 and 7. We are pleased to welcome Juneau’s own William Todd Hunt to the podium to lead these concerts, which will also feature the Juneau Symphony Chorus. Hunt is artistic director of Juneau’s Orpheus Project and Amalga Chamber Orchestra, and he has frequently conducted other groups across the country and in Europe.

The “Psalms and Fanfares” program begins with Alexander von Zemlinsky’s “Psalm 23” and the Zoltan Kodaly’s “Psalmus Hungaricus,” both featuring the Juneau Symphony Chorus. We will also premiere a new work by Emerson Eads, composer of the Princess Sophia opera being produced this fall in Juneau. The program will conclude with Leos Janacek’s “Sinfonietta for Large Orchestra.”

This year’s pops concert will be a tribute to Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler, presented on June 8 and 9. These concerts will be conducted by Dr. Yaniv Attar. Dr. Attar is the music director for the Whatcom Symphony in Bellingham, Washington, and the Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra, and Artistic Partner with Northwest Sinfonietta. He is the winner of numerous conducting awards and frequently appears throughout the U.S. and Europe.

From the dancelike sounds of Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dances,” to the electrifying music of John Williams and Leonard Bernstein, this concert will take you on an incredible journey you will never forget. The heart of the concert will feature Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with brilliant pianist Jessica Choe, who will mesmerize you with her virtuosic playing. We can’t think of a better way to end the season and welcome summer in beautiful Juneau.

We are also pleased to announce that Bryan Hall will serve as our concertmaster for three of our concerts, and Lisa Ibias as concertmaster for the April concert. Bryan Hall is a Professor at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, and he is currently the concertmaster of the Fairbanks Symphony. Ibias was the concertmaster for our Juneau Symphony from 2008-2017 and is now pursuing advanced music studies at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Both of these individuals are highly regarded as excellent musicians and outstanding concertmasters.

As we begin this season we express our deep gratitude to our departing music director, maestro Troy Quinn. We were extremely fortunate to have had Troy on the conductor’s podium for the past three seasons, bringing beautiful music from around the world to Juneau. This coming season we will establish a selection committee who will be reviewing applicants from Alaska and around the country, to become the next music director of the Juneau Symphony. Our goal is to bring back the finalists from this selection process during the 2019-2020 season and eventually determine who will lead our orchestra for the next exciting chapter.

Of course, this extraordinary 56th season would not be possible without the generosity of our loyal sponsors, donors and patrons. On behalf of our dedicated staff, talented musicians, and board of directors, I would like to thank the community of Juneau for your continued dedication and support. We hope that you enjoy the performances this 2018-2019 season, and that you will join us for many more to come!

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