A Tribute to Spring

Juneau Symphony's weekend concerts to usher in the season

Posted: Friday, April 20, 2007

Springtime is here, and the Juneau Symphony has the score - a slightly pared-down orchestral presentation of "light, bouncy" works of Francis Poulenc, Robert Schumann and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

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Concerts begin at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium.

The featured piece is Poulenc's 1959 "Gloria," a jazzy liturgical text with a chorus of 50 signing the Mass in Latin. Soprano Kathleen Wayne is the featured soloist.

The harmonies are full of polyrhythm and major seventh chords traditionally used in jazz, symphony conductor Kyle Wiley Pickett said.

"The French composers figured out that American jazz was a real art before the Americans did, and so he uses all these wonderful jazzy harmonies and rhythms in what is traditionally a very liturgical piece of music," Pickett said.

"You're not going to listen to it and say this sounds like Dave Brubeck," he said. "You're going to say, this is really cool classical music. It's really accessible. It's really kind of fun and interesting."

The "Gloria" has been called "sacrilegious" because of its maverick style. But in real life, Poulenc was known as much for his devoutness as he was for his tendency to break away from the pack, Pickett said.


• When: 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday; concert conversations start one hour before each performance.

• Where: Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium.

• On the radio: Sunday's performance will be broadcast on KRNN/102.7 FM, and www.ktoo.org.

• Tickets: In advance, $20 general, $15 students/seniors; at the door, $2 more. Sunday's matinee is $12 for children under 12. Available at Hearthside Books, online and at the door.

• For more information: www.juneausymphony.org or call 586-HORN.

"At the time, the Catholic Church is loosening up their idea of what's appropriate for liturgical text," Pickett said.

After Poulenc, the symphony will perform the third movement of Mozart's "Horn Concerto No. 4." Mozart wrote all four of his horn concertos for his good friend, the talented Austrian horn player Joseph Ignaz Leitgeb.

Juneau-Douglas High School junior Kristina Paulick, winner of the Juneau Symphony's 2006 Youth Concerto Competition, will be featured on the French horn.

"It's actually a really great combination," Pickett said. "The Mozart has a bouncy, fun sort of horn, and it maintains this real lift."

The concert concludes with German composer Robert Schumann's 1841 "Symphony No. 1 in B flat major, op. 38," also known as his "Spring Symphony."

Schumann was inspired by his fall 1840 marriage to his longtime love Clara Weick, whose father had fought the union for almost six years, Pickett said.

"It was the happiest moment of his life," Pickett said. "('Spring Symphony') is full of new life. It's romantic, and yet, it's not heavy or dark. It's a light, love song."

• Korry Keeker can be reached at korry.keeker@juneauempire.com.

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