We have been very busy here at OTG lately, so I’m grateful to have a spare few moments to write to you all about what is happening these days. The big thing on our plate is putting together the Amalga Chamber Orchestra Concert for this coming Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon at Northern Light Church. 35 Musicians and two soloists will be sure to delight you playing orchestral music that is not heard in Juneau very often.

Rehearsals are now well underway, and we are just about to get into the final push of rehearsals before the big weekend.  There are four pieces on the program from contrasting time periods with a great variety of styles. First on the program is likely the most familiar – the “Unfinished” symphony of Franz Schubert. It is a wonderfully beautiful work that has a mysterious past. People ask me why he left it unfinished; some assume that he died during its composition – not true! He went on to write hundreds of pieces, many of which are his best known.  Aside from the two movements we have intact, there is a brief sketch for a third movement. To me, he obviously felt that it was not material that lived up to the first half of the symphony he already composed, so he likely abandoned it and never got back to it. We will probably never know the real story. And of all unfinished works he left behind, I believe this one is the least deserving of the title.

The new opera Rory Stitt has composed is featured in the 2nd piece on the program. It is an aria, essentially the third scene from the story, where we meet a princess who laments that she does not know where she can go to have her dreams fulfilled – someplace where she feels accepted and happy for who she is. After hearing a beautiful, haunting voice that she cannot see the source of, she has a glimpse of what is possible; a discovery of self through music. The voice of the wordless Bennu is taken by the alto saxophone in this slight reworking of the aria for soprano and orchestra. The opera in its entirety will be premiered this coming April. Don’t miss it!

After Intermission, we are treated to another featured solo. Sally Schlichting will show us what the flute can really do in Charles Griffes’ “Poem” for flute and orchestra.

Sally Schlichting, photo by Marilyn Holmes

This wonderful gem of a piece is about 9 minutes long, but is so packed with various fleeting emotions and tone colors, that one can hardly believe that nearly 10 minutes have gone by at the end! Griffes was an American composer linked mostly to a small movement of composers writing in an impressionistic style on this continent, so thinking you hear touches of Debussy and Ravel are certainly not off the mark. I am very happy that Sally is able to play with us this concert. She has been an invaluable asset to OTG since she and concertmaster Lisa Ibias played together in our staging of Madame Butterfly more than a decade ago!

The final piece on the program is another symphony – Mozart’s Symphony number 38 in D major, written for the people of the city of Prague who were adorning fans of his for many years. Special things about this symphony include its odd 3 movement (instead of the standard 4) structure, and the slowest music of the entire piece being at the very beginning! From the outset, we think this is going to be a heavy and serious piece, but the mood lightens at the faster tempo, and we are plunged into one of Mozart’s most contrapuntal (meaning more than one melodic line happening at the same time) symphonies that has exuberant energy all the way through to the end. Even the “slow” movement of the symphony is an Andante (literally means: walking) that hops along at a very flowing pace. This piece is certainly the most challenging on the concert, due to the delicacy and precision that the players must have to bring it off.

The rehearsal process has been great so far, and we are looking forward to getting into the space at Northern Light this coming week. I hope I have time for one more note before its over. If not – be sure to get your tickets early. NLUC can fill up fast, and there are a limited number of seats available. $15 General/$13 Seniors/ $5 Student Tickets!

Hope to see you there!