Concert to turn instruments into other voices

Posted: Thursday, December 14, 2000

Saturday night, even the clarinet will be singing with the Juneau Symphony.

The Juneau Lyric Opera Choral Ensemble will join the Juneau Symphony for a winter concert at Juneau-Douglas High School. The concert will feature clarinetist Niko Hoskins and violinist Megan Bush, the winners of the 2000 Youth Concerto Competition.

"The only way to make really good music is for the audience to know you're behind what you're doing," Hoskins said. "The idea is to make the instrument become an extension of your singing voice."

As a winner of the concerto competition, Hoskins helped select Saturday night's program. He chose a Handel oboe concerto transcribed for clarinet.

"What really struck me is the musicality and the dynamics, and there's a lot of emotion in the piece," he said.

Hoskins is not a singer. So instead of thinking of the oboe as his own voice, he pictures another singer. To do that he looked at what was going on in the life of the composer, George Handel, when he wrote the piece at the turn of the 18th century.

"He was writing a lot of operas at the time," Hoskins said. "In the slower sections I imagine an opera singer on stage singing, holding onto every note, making it sound beautiful. In the faster sections I kind of lose that and just make sure my fingers are in the right spots."

Hoskins, a senior at JuneauDouglas High School, has been playing clarinet seven years. Hoskins rehearses about two hours a day. He plays bass clarinet and alto saxophone, as well as clarinet, and plays in the JDHS jazz band and wind ensemble. He's played in the Southeast and AllState Honor Bands and for a number of musicals.

The competition is an annual event sponsored by the symphony and draws young musicians from across Southeast. Winners are selected in a junior division and senior division. The other competition winner is violinist Megan Bush, an eighth-grader at Dzantik'i' Heeni Middle School. Like Hoskins, she's also played about seven years. She's been polishing her rapid passages this week in preparation for the concert. She'll play a short Vivaldi piece.

"I really like Vivaldi," she said. "It's really fast, quick tempo all the way through. It kind of keeps you on your toes."

"I'm pretty scared but it's exciting," she added.

About two dozen singers with the Juneau Lyric Opera will join the symphony for three pieces a choral work by Brahms, a Bach cantata and a Christmas song.

"I love singing with the orchestra," said alto Lena Simmons.

Simmons said the Bach cantata is the shortest he wrote. A cantata is a musical work based on scripture.

"It's very cool. I like the interplay between the orchestra and voices. There are some wonderful layers and textures," Simmons said.

She said the text for the Brahms piece is a poem by Friedrich Schiller, "Even Beauty Must Die."

The symphony will also perform works by Gabrieli and Wagner and some holiday favorites. One of the two Gabrieli works features just the brass section.

This will be the second concert for the symphony's new conductor, Kyle Wyllie Pickett. The concert Saturday begins at 8 p.m. with a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at Hearthside Books and at the door. If purchased in advance, tickets are $14 for general admission and $12 for students and senior citizens. They are $2 more at the door. Children's tickets are $5.

Riley Woodford can be reached at

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