Two concerts feature top URI ensembles, Oct. 29-30

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KINGSTON, R.I. — October 14, 2011 — Two weekend concerts at the University of Rhode Island will showcase performances by four of URI’s top ensembles. On Saturday Oct. 29 at 8 p.m., the first concert will feature the URI Symphony Orchestra and the Concert Choir, performing both separately and together. This will include the American premier of a new work by composer Eliane Aberdam. The concert on Sunday, Oct. 30 at 3 p.m. is a double-bill featuring the URI Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the URI Concert Band.

Both concerts will be held in the URI Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, 105 Upper College Road, Kingston. Admission for each concert is $10 general public, $5 students, with tickets available at the concert box office on a first-come basis starting 45 minutes before the concert.

The orchestra, directed by Ann Danis, will perform Prayer of Mesas by Michael Mauldin with the URI Concert Choir. The orchestra program also includes Prologue Hymn and Dance by Holesovsky and two pieces by Rhode Island composers: the U.S. premier of Les Bons Augures by Eliane Aberdam, and State House by Geoffrey Gibbs, which the URI Symphony premiered in 1998.

Les Bons Augures, which means “Good Omens,” is dedicated to Olivier Jean Avondo, who commissioned the piece, and to the students of his orchestra at the Music School of Cormeilles-en-Parisis, France. It premiered in France in June of this year. Gibbs’ piece takes a structural shape inspired by the actual state house in Providence- “two chambers, the Independent Man on top, etc.” according to Danis. Mauldin’s Prayer of Mesas was commissioned for the University of New Mexico’s Centennial Celebration and premiered in 1988. Written for orchestra and chorus, it represents a prayer by the distinctive Southwestern landscape features that the humans who move upon them will “let the earth heal.”

In addition, the Concert Choir will perform two spirituals, My God is a Rock, arr. Damon Dandridge, and Save Me, Lord!, by Robert L. Morris; a Russian piece Blazhen Razumevayay na Nischcha i Uboga (Blessed is he who considers the poor and needy) by Alexandr Arkhangelskii, and a masterwork of the American repertoire from the mid-20th century: Behold, I Build an House by Lukas Foss.

The Sunday concert is split between the URI Concert Band, directed by Brian Cardany, and URI’s acclaimed Symphonic Wind Ensemble, directed by Gene J. Pollart. Made up of the finest wind and percussion musicians in the university, the Wind Ensemble will open with the American Hymnsong Suite by Dwayne Milburn, based on four great American hymns. Their program also includes Aquarium by Johann DeMeij, American Bandstand by James Syler, and the descriptive work Sedona by Steven Reineke.

The Concert Band program follows a loose theme, according to Cardany. “All four pieces deal in some way with nature and the elements,” he explains. “The Philosopher’s Stone (by Thomas Duffy) refers to alchemy (changing lead to gold, etc.) and Elements (by Brian Balmages) obviously relates to the four classic elements of the world. The inner movements are inspired by the outdoors and our relationship to the sun and nature in general.” The other pieces included in this program are Sun Dance by Frank Ticheli, and Twilight in the Wilderness by Christopher Tucker.

The URI Concert Hall is handicap-accessible, and parking is available in the lot behind the Fine Arts Center, off Bills Road. For more information, please contact the URI Department of Music, 874-2431, or check the website: