Ensembles showcase the unorthodox, the sonorous

Symphony Showcase to be performed at new Valley setting, as well as Northern Light

Posted: Friday, May 02, 2003

The Juneau Symphony's annual Symphony Showcase allows its musicians a chance to play in small ensembles, the freedom to pick their own pieces and the rare opportunity to play chamber music.

So why not select a piece that's a little unorthodox?

Flutist Sally Schlichting, French horn player Bill Paulick and kettledrums player Rich Ritter did just that when they chose Ellis B. Kohs' "Night Watch," a quiet mood-and-movement piece written for legendary French horn player Marvin Howe. It's the fourth selection in this weekend's showcase program.

"Bill had this recording of another French horn and flutist (Calvin Smith and John Barcellona) who had done an entire album of flute and horn pieces, and this was one of the ones on there," said Schlichting, a member of the symphony for 15 years. "The sonorities for the flute and the horn are lush and rich and wonderful. The kettledrum is a nice addition, and it's nice to have some percussion in the showcase."

The Symphony Showcase plays at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 3, at Aldersgate United Methodist Church and at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 4, at Northern Light United Church. This the first time the showcase has played at Aldersgate, Schlichting said. Season-ticket holders should note the change.

"We just wanted to try something new," she said. "We decided to try a place in the Valley. It's a nice, acoustic space. It will be fun for the musicians to play there as a change."

This weekend's programs stretch from Beethoven and his late-1790s "Serenade in D Major" for flute, violin and viola, to Neal Corwell and his 1981 "Four Short Narratives" for euphonium.

The programs begin with David Seid on cello and Patrick Murphy on string bass performing Bernard Romberg's "Sonata No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 43," a three-movement sonata.

"Seldom does the audience hear the string bass in the solo setting," Schlichting said. "That's kind of special."

French horn player John Schuman and pianist Jacque Farnsworth chose Camille Saint-Saens' 1874 "Romance, Op. 36." Violist Julia Bastuscheck and pianist Mary Watson picked "Passacaglia (on an Old English Tune)," from lesser-known English composer Rebecca Clarke.

Alto saxophonist William Todd Hunt and tenor saxophonist Jeremy Brandt-Young will duel in Fisher Tull's "Dialogue for Two Saxophones." Tull wrote "Dialogue" for the 80th birthday of saxophone player Sigurd Rascher, and the piece premiered on Rascher's doorstep at 2 a.m. May 16, 1975, according to the showcase program notes.

"I'm sure that's going to be lively," Schlichting said. "It'll be really different."

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

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