Symphony Presents Season Finale “Midsommarvaka” Saturday

Posted on May 25th, 2010 by

The Gustavus Symphony Orchestra and Conductor Gregory Aune

The Gustavus Symphony Orchestra and Conductor Gregory Aune

The Gustavus Symphony Orchestra, with the assistance of the Gustavus Choir and featuring concerto competition winners Abbie Johnson, piccolo and Scott Simpkins, bass trombone, presents the department’s season finale with a performance in Christ Chapel on Saturday, May 29. This performance, conducted by Gregory Aune, is part of the College’s Commencement Weekend festivities and begins at 8:00 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

The Symphony’s season finale opens with two works assisted by the Gustavus Choir. The opening work is Roger Quilter’s Non nobis, Domine, set to the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The second work, written by John Williams, is from the motion picture Saving Private Ryan and is titled the Hymn to the Fallen. The symphony continues with a solo work, The Gift, by Minnesota composer Steven Amundson.

The finale program continues with two movements from Lowell Lieberman’s Concerto for Piccolo and Orchestra Op. 50, featuring the symphony’s principal flutist and concerto competition winner Abbie Johnson on piccolo. Johnson, a junior music performance major and English minor from Oronoco, Minn., is a graduate of Pine Island High School and the daughter of Lynette Johnson from Oronoco and Paul Johnson from Rochester. In addition to her work in the symphony, Abbie is also principal flute in the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, studies flute with Barbara Leibundguth and is a frequent music contributor in Christ Chapel.

Following Johnson’s performance, concerto competition winner and senior bass trombonist Scott Simpkins comes to the stage to present Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Concerto for Bass Tuba and Orchestra. Simpkins, a biochemistry and chemistry double major with a music minor, is another active member of the Gustavus Department of Music. A native of Ames, Iowa, Scott studies bass trombone with Professor Scott Moore, is a member of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, Christ Chapel Brass and plays electric and upright bass with the Gustavus Jazz Lab Band. He is the son of Cathy and Bill Simpkins of Ames, a 2006 graduate of Ames High School. After graduation, Scott will be working for the Department of Food Science and Nutrition on the University of Minnesota/St. Paul campus with plans to go on to graduate school in analytical chemistry.

Saturday’s concert concludes with Swedish composer Hugo Alfvén’s Swedish Rhapsody No. 1 or “Midsommarvaka” (Midsummer Vigil). Composed in 1903, Midsommarvaka is Alfvén’s best known work and one of the best known symphonic works from Sweden. From the familiar opening clarinet solo to the English horn’s lead into a succession of dance themes, the Swedish Rhapsody is a light-hearted celebration of the revelry that is Midsummer in Sweden. It evokes a sense of anticipation for the year’s “longest day” and, for the Department of Music, the end of another season and the beginning of summer.

The Department of Music’s season finale celebration begins at 8:00 p.m. in Christ Chapel. Tickets are not required and all are welcome to join in the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra’s Midsommarvaka.


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