The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra serves the community by
enriching, educating and engaging audiences of all ages through
inspired performances of orchestral and chamber music.
Season opening concert was a "YOWZA!" (Audience member direct quote)
The 2015-16 “BLOCKBUSTER” concert season opened with MUSIC ON FIRE, with repertoire that lit up the hall with intensity and excitement. The “fire” theme opened with “Ritual Fire Dance” by Spanish composer Manuel de Falla, followed by the colorful and dramatic "Firebird Suite" by Stravinsky.
Local saxophone phenom RUSSELL PETERSON was the featured soloist in a contemporary piece by Japanese composer Takashi Yoshimatsu, “Cyberbird – Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra.” The saxophone showpiece incorporated dazzling colors and rhythms along with dashes of jazz and rock, supported by FMSO Principal Percussionist Kenyon Williams on trap set and Jay Hershberger on piano.
(Right - rehearsal of "Cyberbird," with piano and percussion battery downstage flanking saxophonist Russ Peterson and conductor Christopher Zimmerman)
Respighi's towering "Pines of Rome" was the grand finale of the concert, bringing the audience roaring to its feet for the third time during the evening.
Here is what reviewer John Lamb of The Forum had to say:
Review: Peterson jazzes up Symphony opener with sax appeal
FARGO—The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra was playing with fire in its season opener Saturday night and the results were very cool. If you go to today's encore performance, you'll find a jazz gig breaking out in the middle of a classical music concert.
Symphony member Russell Peterson set aside his bassoon and in a rare sight for symphony regulars, brought a sax to the front of the stage as the soloist on Takashi Yoshimatsu's "Cyberbird." The contemporary Japanese composer started off in progressive rock and jazz fusion bands, evident in this selection.
Peterson played with a lilting melody throughout the three movements with pianist Jay Hershberger and percussionist Kenyon Williams fueling the flight. At times the work folded into a swing number, then set off on a meditative soaring and later completely broke down into a free-jazz section with conductor Christopher Zimmerman keeping it all together.
The piece was as much fun to watch as it was to hear, with the sax and the flutes chirping at each other and Peterson walking across the stage to Williams' percussion arsenal for a face-off that included an added honk at Zimmerman for good measure. Peterson may have been the featured soloist, but Williams was also a treat, manning a stand-up trap set and a number of other percussive instruments, including a drum between his legs at one point.
Peterson is a real showman and the crowd ate it up, erupting with a standing ovation as soon as his reed left his mouth. That led to an encore with the sax man under a lone spotlight riffing on Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight." It felt so much like a club setting that some people, including someone on stage, took flash photos. Peterson himself may be partially to blame for that deviation from standard concert decorum as he convinced Zimmerman to pose for a selfie with the crowd in the background immediately before the number.
This wasn't your parents' symphony concert.
"Cyberbird" wasn't the only shiny object in the show. Igor Stravinsky's ballet score, "Firebird Suite," would've been the star on any other night, as would have the majestic and powerful finale, "The Pines of Rome" by Ottorino Respighi. And at just over four minutes, Manuel de Falla's "Ritual Fire Dance" was a dazzling appetizer to a thrilling show.
Zimmerman's commitment to works that are both challenging and rewarding for the performers and audience alike—in this case, all from the 20th Century—looks to be a winning formula for this year's theme of "blockbuster" shows.
(Right - 2-year-old Ami Beyers is captivated throughout the entire concert as she listens from the "cry" room - here she watches Russ Peterson's "'Round Midnight" encore. Perhaps we should rename it the "happy dance" room!)
The 2015-16 concert season is truly one musical blockbuster after another - read all about it here. Season tickets are now available by calling 701-478-3676. Pick your seat preference and enjoy a season of amazing concerts at a discounted price.
NEW - FMSO TO OFFER PROFESSIONAL CONDUCTING SEMINAR
November seminar will feature FMSO Music Director Christopher Zimmerman and
Director of Orchestra at Concordia College Foster Beyers
Sunday, November 15 through Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Limited to seven participants, conductors will be ensured 95 minutes of podium time over three days (35 minutes with full orchestra and 60 minutes with string quartet and piano). Works to be conducted will be Dvorak Symphony No. 9 and Gershwin Piano Concerto in F (Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra) and Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique (Concordia College Orchestra).
The workshop will include seminars on score study, conductor/soloist collaboration, and orchestral bowing. Organizational topics will also be offered, including building a college orchestra, programming and community engagement.
Maestro Christopher Zimmerman, now in his third season as Music Director of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony, is also director of the Fairfax (VA) Symphony and the American Youth Philharmonic, based in Washington DC. Winner of the American Conducting Prize in 2011, Zimmerman has conducted orchestras to critical acclaim throughout the US and abroad.
His career has also embraced teaching and working with student orchestras and conductors. In 1993 he joined the conducting faculty at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati where he was Music Director of their concert orchestra, and in 1999 he was appointed as Fuller Professor of Orchestral Studies at the Hartt School as well as Music Director of the Hartt Symphony. A much sought after clinician and pedagogue, Mr. Zimmerman continues to teach at workshops and festivals around the world.
Dr. Foster Beyers has served as Director of Orchestras at Concordia College since 2011. In addition to leading the Concordia Orchestra, he teaches instrumental conducting and special topics courses in music history. Prior to coming to Concordia, Foster Beyers served as interim director of orchestra at the College of St. Benedict/St. John University for the 2010/2011 academic year. From 2008-2011 he was a James Sample Fellow in conducting at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where he led the Campus Orchestra and String Orchestra and studied with Mark Russell Smith. Mr. Beyers came to Minnesota from Chicago where he served as Music Director of the Ravenswood Community Orchestra, Assistant Director of Choirs at Kenilworth Union Church, and adjunct instructor of music at Loyola College.
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