Epic University Symphony Orchestra Concert

By Natalie Hendricks, SMTD Publicity Intern

The University Symphony Orchestra will fill the stage a final time for the 2016-2017 academic year, showcasing works old and new. This two-night run takes place on Thursday, April 27, and Friday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the Griffin Concert Hall, located within the University Center for the Arts.

The concert will be one of a kind, and audiences will be “dazzled on all fronts,” said Maestro Wes Kenney. “There is much power in what we’re doing, but also beauty.”

The epic program includes Mason Bates’ Mothership, originally performed by the YouTube Symphony; Ernst Bloch’s Schelomo – considered one of the greatest cello concertos ever written – featuring guest soloist Barbara Thiem; and the classic Pictures at an Exhibition by Modeste Mussorgsky, transcribed by Maurice Ravel.

Starting the concert, Mason Bates’ Mothership, will give audiences an experience that is not common for orchestra performances. Originally commissioned by the YouTube Symphony, this piece is presented with an entire lighting scheme by CSU Theatre Director Price Johnston that visually enhances the talent of the players and soloists in an energetic way.

“I love the idea of the collaboration with theatre and hearing four students improvising as part of Mothership,” said Kenney. The featured soloists include Joe Hoffarth, saxophone; Chris Bell, clarinet; Tim Sanchez, percussion; and Aiden King, trombone.

Kenney selected the piece specifically with CSU student patrons in mind. “Mason Bates is a 21st century composer, and speaks a language that younger audiences will identify with,” said Maestro Kenney. “The work is absolutely listener friendly.”


The second piece features cellist Barbara Thiem, a faculty artist and performer who travels the world. Schelomo, also known as Hebraic Rhapsody, was written in 1915 by German-Swiss composer Ernst Bloch. Bloch came to America shortly after it was composed, and was present when the piece from his “Jewish Cycle” premiered at Carnegie Hall.

Marking the 100-year anniversary of the performance on May 3, 1917, Professor Thiem is honored to perform this piece during its anniversary. “[Schelomo] is a very Jewish sounding piece, and the cello voice is supposed to be King Solomon,” she explained. The piece is definitely late romantic style while it incorporates a Jewish melody. “It’s a very big orchestra and has a lot of percussion and brass – it’s a big full orchestra around this little cello,” Thiem added.

If you’ve ever seen Professor Thiem perform, you know the big orchestra won’t be any problem!

“I am always excited to be in front of the CSU Symphony,” said Maestro Kenney. “However, Pictures is another milestone achieved for the CSU Symphony as it also demonstrates the level of teaching that goes on at our school.”

Pictures at an Exhibition musically depicts an art patron strolling through an exhibition of paintings, and the emotions felt while embracing the presentation.

“We have not done Pictures at CSU since I’ve been here, and it is one of the great showpieces for orchestra, unique in its presentation and a virtuosic vehicle for orchestra,” said the Maestro.

Carefully rehearsed over the last four weeks, the University Symphony Orchestra will blow you away with this unique performance.

Ticket Information

Tickets for the performance are no charge for Full-fee paying CSU students, $1 for youth (under 18), and $12 for the public. Tickets are available at the University Center for the Arts (UCA) ticket office in the UCA lobby Monday through Friday, 3:30-5:30 p.m. and 60 minutes prior to performances, by phone at (970) 491-ARTS (2787), or online at www.CSUArtsTickets.com.