the_best_buy-300x112 All Concerts are on Sundays at 3:00 p.m.
at Valley Vista Performing Arts Center
15550 N. Parkview Place, Surprise, AZ 85374

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March 10, 2019                      

The music of George Gershwin captures the essence of what America is all about. Features Dr. Karali Hunter, NCTM in Rhapsody in Blue. You don’t want to miss this one.

Porgy and Bess
George Gershwin
Symphonic Picture
arr. Robert Russell Bennett
Rhapsody in Blue
George Gershwin
Dr. Karali Hunter
NCTM
An American in Paris
George Gershwin

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Guest Artist Sponsor:

Karali Hunter – Biography

Idaho native and pianist Dr. Karali Hunter is an award-winning performer and pedagogue based in Phoenix, AZ. Praised for her performance of Richard Cumming’s 24 Preludes, The River Reporter of New York stated, “[She] transported listeners through diverse shifts of mood and tempo”. Hunter’s reputation as a dynamic, sensitive, and passionate performer has led to solo and chamber performances across the country and internationally.

Dr. Hunter made her Carnegie Hall debut performance in 2011 after winning first prize in the American Protégé Piano and Strings Competition. She was also the First Place winner of the Duxbury Summer Music Festival Chamber Competition in Massachusetts. She is a prize winner in Musician’s
West Piano Competition, Festival for Creative Pianists, Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Young Artists Competition, Coeur D’Alene National Young Artists Competition Finalist, as well as many other local and state competitions. Hunter has studied with and performed for some of the world’s foremost musicians, including the legendary Ruth Slenczynska, Gary Graffman (Curtis Institute of Music), Frederic Chiu, John Perry (USC), Yong Hi Moon (Peabody), Nina Svetlanova (Manhattan School of Music), and Monique Duphil (Oberlin Conservatory), and the critically acclaimed Orion Quartet.

An active performer, Dr. Hunter is a Founding Artist of the chamber group, Salonnières, performing regularly throughout Arizona and in the western United States. Salonnières were recently featured on the College of Southern Idaho’s Piano Celebrations Series. She recently performed Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Piano Trio No. 2 in concerts with the MCO Symphony Orchestra in Arizona and Los Angeles, CA. As a featured student artist of Music Fest Perugia, Hunter performed Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Italian orchestra I Solisti di Perugia. She made her orchestral debut at the age of 15 as the featured soloist of the Magic Valley Youth Orchestra.

Upcoming performances include playing Rhapsody in Blue with the Symphony of the Southwest, and a solo recital at the Festival for Creative Pianists 2019 in Denver, CO , and a solo recital at the College of Southern Idaho as part of the Piano Celebration Series.

Dr. Hunter is a highly sought-after teacher and pedagogue. She was awarded the StAR Award in 2008 by the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) for her “academic excellence, successful teaching experience and demonstrated leadership abilities”, the Oscarson Grant from BYU in 2006, and was also elected to the President’s Leadership Council of BYU in 2007 for her distinction in academic and musical achievements. Her students have gone on to compete, teach, and have been accepted to music programs at various colleges and universities. Student achievements include first place, alternate, and honorable mentions in the Arizona MTNA competition, followed by  honorable mention in the Southwest Division MTNA competition; National Gold Medal from the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program (awarded to students achieving the highest mark in the country on their playing and theory assessments); second and third place awards from The American Protégé competition resulting in performances in Carnegie Hall; and many other awards in local and state competitions. She has given masterclasses and judged festivals and competitions across the western United States. Dr. Hunter co-presented at The Forum of the International Association for Word and Music Studies: Music and Sexuality, and she is involved in research involving Norwegian folk music and its appearances in classical Norwegian piano works.

Dr. Hunter received her Bachelor’s Degree from Brigham Young University, studying with Jeffrey Shumway and Irene Peery-Fox; a Master of Music Degree from Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music with Karen Shaw; and a Doctorate Degree from Arizona State University under the direction of Baruch Meir.

Program Notes

George Jacob Gershwin was born in Brooklyn, NY, on September 26, 1898. His given name was Jacob Gershowitz. At the age of 10 he was smitten with music and decided that’s where his future lay. He studied piano with various teachers and left school at the age of 15 when he became a song-plugger for the Jerome H. Remick music publishing company. Soon, he was writing his own music. In 1916 he published his first song, “When You Want ‘Em, You Can’t Get ‘Em, When You’ve Got ‘Em, You Don’t Want ‘Em“. Within a couple of years more hits came from his pen: Swanee and Rialto Ripples, among them. At this time Gershwin turned his attention to Broadway. Success there caught the attention of the influential band leader, Paul Whiteman.

On Jan. 4, 1924, an article appeared in the New York Tribune, reading in part: “Among the members of the committee of judges who will pass on ‘What is American Music?’ at the Paul Whiteman concert to be given at Aeolean Hall, Tuesday afternoon, February 12, will be Sergei Rachmaninoff, Jascha Heifetz, Efrem Zimbalist and Alma Gluck… This question of just what is American music has aroused tremendous interest in musical circles and Mr. Whiteman is receiving every phase of manuscript, from blues to symphonies. George Gershwin is at work on a jazz concerto…” This was news to Gershwin, but he nonetheless took on the challenge with less than five weeks before the concert. Time being short, Whiteman agreed to have Gershwin write a piano score which would be orchestrated by Ferde Grofé. Gershwin wrote, “It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattlety-bang…that I suddenly heard – even saw on paper – the complete construction of the Rhapsody from beginning to end.” The Rhapsody in Blue was the next-to-last number on the Whiteman concert. Gershwin himself played the piano solo, improvising some of the work on the spot. At the age of 25 George Gershwin had burst upon the serious music scene. A critic wrote to the composer, “Quite as a matter of course the concert was a riot; you crowned it with what I am forced to regard as the foremost serious effort by an American composer.”

Shortly after Rhapsody was performed, Gershwin realized that to become a “real” composer he should do what many other American composers did in those days: go to Paris and study with the famous pedagogue, Nadia Boulanger. She turned him down, as did Maurice Ravel – both realized that they would ruin his unique jazz-influenced style. In 1928, while in Paris, he began working on a commission by Walter Damrosch and the Symphony Society of New York. The work would be titled An American in Paris.

In an interview in Musical America, the composer wrote, “This new piece, really a rhapsodic ballet, is written very freely and is the most modern music I’ve yet attempted…My purpose here is to portray the impression of an American visitor in Paris, as he strolls about the city, listens to the various street noises, and absorbs the French atmosphere…As in my other orchestral compositions I’ve not endeavored to represent any definite scenes in this music. The rhapsody is programmatic only in a general impressionistic way, so that the listener can read into the music such episodes as his imagination pictures for him.”

The first performance of An American in Paris was given by the New York Symphony Society at Carnegie Hall on December 13, 1928.

Porgy and Bess was Gershwin’s last major work. It is based on the play Porgy by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward which Gershwin had read in 1936. He proposed writing the opera with his brother Ira writing the lyrics. Gershwin called Porgy and Bess a folk opera.

‘Porgy and Bess is a folk tale. Its people naturally would sing folk music. When I first began work on the music I decided against the use of original folk material because I wanted the music to be all of one piece. Therefore I wrote my own spirituals and folksongs. But they are still folk music – and therefore, being in operatic form, Porgy and Bess becomes a folk opera.”

The opera was produced by the New York Theater Guild and premiered on October 10, 1935, running for 124 performances. Conductor Fritz Reiner, who would later lead the Chicago Symphony in a legendary era, commissioned arranger and composer Robert Russell Bennett to make a symphonic arrangement of the opera. Bennett said “Dr. Reiner selected the portions of the opera that he wanted to play and also the sequence of the excerpts. He expressed his ideas as to instrumentation, wishing to make generous use of saxophones and banjo, and to dispense with Gershwin’s pet instrument, the piano. I proceeded not only to follow Dr. Reiner’s ideas faithfully, but also to remain completely loyal to George’s harmonic and orchestral intentions…I have been careful to do what I knew – after many years of association with Gershwin – Gershwin would like as a symphonic version of his music.”

Marty Haub

April 7, 2019
50th Anniversary
Celebration Concert

We are celebrating the West Valley Symphony’s 50th anniversary by performing a portion of the very first concert the orchestra played in 1968. Anna Han returns to dazzle us with her artistry as soloist in the Grieg Piano

The Barber of Seville Overture
Gioacchino Rossini
Symphony No. 35, K385, (Haffner Symphony)
Wolfgang Mozart
Piano Concerto in A minor, Anna Han, soloist
Edvard Grieg

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All Concerts are on Sundays at 3:00 p.m.
at Valley Vista Performing Arts Center
15550 N. Parkview Place, Surprise, AZ 85374

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