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

WVS Administration: (623) 236-6781

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2018-2019 Season Concerts

February 10, 2019

Beethoven is back and his 5th Symphony is one of his greatest works. Suites by two close colleagues, Ravel and Stravinsky round out the concert.

Symphony No. 5 in C minor
Ludwig van Beethoven
Mother Goose Suite
Maurice Ravel
The Firebird Suite (1919)
Igor Stravinsky

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Program Notes

Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony must be the most famous symphony ever written; the four-note motto which opens it is recognized even by people who don’t like classical music. But the symphony bewildered and amused its first audiences. When the Philharmonic Society of London first read the symphony, the players laughed openly, and the conductor, none other than J.P. Salomon, called it “rubbish.” He was eventually won over by the extraordinary power of the symphony. As Thayer relates, several years later, after another attempt at playing the first movement, “Salomon laid his violin upon the pianoforte, walked to the front and, turning to the orchestra said, ‘Gentlemen, some years ago I called this symphony rubbish; I wish to retract every word I then said, as I now consider it one of the greatest compositions I have ever heard.’”.

Beethoven struggled for many years on the symphony. His sketchbooks reveal that he began sketching ideas as early as 1801, even before writing the Third Symphony. Serious work began in 1805, and the symphony was completed in late 1807 or early 1808. The entire first movement evolves from the famous opening four-note motto, which Beethoven described as “Fate is knocking at the door.” It is a masterful demonstration of symphonic thinking and development. The gentler and more lyrical second movement is a theme and variations. The third movement opens mysteriously with lower strings and winds and then the horns belt out the motto rhythm. The music subsides to a whisper and then, without interruption, the magnificent finale begins. At the end, the motto appears again, this time inverted, as the symphony ends in a blaze of glory.

The Fifth Symphony was a remarkable achievement and broke new ground in symphonic thinking. It introduced the idea of progressive tonality: the symphony begins in C minor, but ends triumphantly in C Major. He used the novel idea of blending two movements together, and more than just playing them without interruption, Beethoven brings back themes from the third movement and uses them in the fourth. For the first time the orchestration would use instruments not heard in a symphony before: the piccolo, contrabassoon, and trombones. The Fifth Symphony was dedicated to two of his patrons, Prince von Lobkowitz and Count Rasumovsky.

Maurice Ravel wrote Mother Goose Suite as a piano duet in 1912 which he later expanded and orchestrated as a ballet. The suite collates a number of Mother Goose characters into one continuous movement with several episodes. The first is “Sleeping Beauty’s Pavane”, a brief section for flute. “Tom Thumb” follows, featuring the oboe. Tom is lost in the woods and has been leaving a trail of crumbs which are eaten up by lustily cheeping birds. “Laideronette (Little Ugly), Empress of the Pagodas” presides not over Eastern temples, but over “pagodes”, little animals who play music through nutshells. The fourth piece is a lazy waltz, “The Conversation of Beauty and the Beast”. The beast is intoned by a solo contrabassoon. The last section is the “The Fairy Garden Awakes”.

In 1910, the impresario Diaghilev was looking for a composer to write the music for his new ballet, The Firebird. Originally wanting Anatol Lyadov, that composer’s lazy and slow working habits left Diaghilev no choice but to find someone else who could work under a tight deadline. On the strength of Fireworks, he chose the still unknown 26-year-old Igor Stravinsky who completed the 45-minute ballet in six months. The first performance, at the Paris Opera on June 25th, 1910, was an immediate and overwhelming success with both critics and public. Stravinsky was an overnight sensation. The Firebird suite was no less successful in the concert hall. The story was adapted by choreographer Michael Fokine from Russian sources. The suite follows the outline of the story quite well. In briefest outline, it tells how Prince Ivan, wandering in a dark enchanted forest, beholds a fabulous bird whose feathers are plumes of fire, eating golden fruit from a silver tree. Prince Ivan tries to catch the Firebird, but only manages to pluck one flame from her coat. The hero wanders further into the forest until he comes to the domain of the demon called Kastchei, the Deathless, so-called because his life doesn’t reside in his body but in an egg hidden in his castle. Ivan watches the grave dance of a bevy of princesses, held in a trancelike spell by Kastchei. Suddenly Kastchei and his demons surround the prince with murderous intent, but the flame from the Firebird’s coat protects him. The Firebird herself appears at the height of the battle to lend him her assistance, then leads Ivan into the castle, where he finds the egg and breaks it. Instantly, the castle and the demons disappear and the princesses are released from their spell. The prince is married to the most beautiful of the princesses amid great rejoicing.

~Marty Haub

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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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.

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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