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FSAF concerts celebrate the human spirit

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Posted: Friday, July 29, 2011 11:35 am | Updated: 1:15 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

FAIRBANKS - Every year, the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival puts on an orchestra and vocal concert. This year, expect to be moved in both by music that glorifies the human spirit.  

The orchestra will perform Sergei Prokofiev’s “Symphony No. 5.”

“It’s a super romantic piece, full of character and life,” said conductor Robert Franz. “It’s really incredible music, actually.”

The festival chooses different numbers and different arrangements each year depending on instrumentation of the orchestra. At the beginning of the festival, it’s not immediately known what kind of musicians will participate. That makes it impossible to pick a composition beforehand, because it might not fit the number of orchestra participants. Franz said Prokofiev’s symphony is perfect for this orchestra. The piece incorporates a variety of instruments and allows multiple musicians to be featured.

“The opening of the concert features four soloists,” Franz said.

These include Routa Kroumovitch Gomez and Alvero Gomez, who play Mozart’s “Symphonia Conertante.” J.R. Fralick and Fairbanks’ own Jaunell Celaire sing a Mahler song titled “Des Knaben Wunderhorn.”

The Festival Choir, directed by Marvilla Davis, will launch today’s performance. The choir features both men and women singing together for the first time in about four years. In the past, a women’s choir and a men’s choir performed separately.

Byron McGilvray will also direct one piece. McGilvray is a longtime guest artist at the festival. He was honored this year for his 30th season of participation. He also has returned to Fairbanks to conduct the popular winter edition singing workshops every March since 1992.

The concert includes a spiritual accompanied by conga drums; a Mozart piece accompanied by string quartet; and a John Rutter arrangement of “When the Saints.”

The final song of this group will feature clarinet, trombone and a trap set. Trudy Harris accompanies.

The Festival Chamber Chorale will perform a capella during the second half. This is a smaller ensemble of 18 men and women, each of whom auditioned to participate.

One song will be by American composer Vijay Singh, who conducted and sang at the festival years ago.

“Both choirs will end with very rousing songs,” Davis said. “The whole chorale concert should be less than an hour in length.”

Some opera/musical theater registrants will also perform a few selections with the orchestra in the second half. JoAnn Kulesza will conduct.

Kris Capps is a freelance writer and columnist who lives just outside Denali National Park. She is also a media relations person for the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival.


What: Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra and Vocal Concerts

When: Vocal: 8:30 p.m. today; Orchestra: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Davis Concert Hall

Tickets: Vocal: $15; Orchestra: $20


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