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Wednesday, April 21,2010

LSO hosts ’home-grown talent’

Familiar local faces return during 2010-11 season

by James Sanford
Lansing has produced its share of talented musicians, and many of them have moved on to other cities in search of new opportunities. Timothy Muffitt’s mission: Bring ‘em back home.

That’s one of what Muffitt calls the “unspoken themes” of the 2010-11 Lansing Symphony Orchestra season, Muffitt’s fifth as music director/conductor.


“The purpose of music programs in school, of course, is to develop the person, not to make them into a professional musician,” Muffitt said. “But it’s a nice fringe benefit when we have these people who come through these programs and go on to become successful. So we’re celebrating home-grown talent.”


The celebration begins with the opening MasterWorks concert of the season on Sept. 10. The guest artists will be the members of Trio Terzetto, featuring Okemos native and celebrated cellist Tanya Ell.


Violinist Melissa White — one-time concertmaster of the Lansing Junior Symphony and now a member of the Harlem Quintet — performs Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto at the fifth MasterWorks concert on March 26. Glenn Seven Allen, the tenor who’ll join the LSO for its holiday Pops on Dec. 12, “is a graduate of East Lansing High School who has gone on to become successful in theater and opera,” Muffitt said.


Muffitt is equally excited about the other guest artists on the roster for the next season. “Michael Gurt is an absolutely electrifying pianist,” he said of the guest for the Oct. 1 MasterWorks concert, who will perform Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.


Yolanda Kondonassis, who’ll join the LSO for the Jan. 8 MasterWorks program, is “one of most sought-after harpists on the planet. She’ll be playing two extraordinary pieces,” Ginastera’s Concerto for Harp and Orchestra and Debussy’s Danses Sacree et Profane.


“To close our season, we have the truly extraordinary Anton Nel,” Muffitt said. Pianist Nel will be spotlighted April 16 in an evening that explores what Muffitt calls “one of the really remarkable relationships in music: Ravel and (George) Gershwin. They were great admirers of each other. Gershwin invited Ravel to come to New York and took him to Harlem to hear jazz on its home turf. You can hear Ravel in Gershwin’s music and Gershwin in Ravel’s music, so I thought it would be interesting to pair their music on a program.”


Although he’s proud of the upcoming season, Muffitt said the LSO has not been spared some of the financial headaches and difficult
choices brought about by cuts in arts funding. “We have to watch the
bottom line very, very carefully,” he said. “It’s precarious — that’s
the reality.


“We
as an organization are obviously operating with maximum efficiency, and
we’re able to make it work because everyone’s giving everything they’ve
got. What we won’t do is sacrifice the quality of what we do.”


One
event that fell by the wayside is the annual Halloween family concert.
“That’s a huge loss,” Muffitt said, “because to me that’s a part of
what we want to be, to be engaging families in that way.”


However,
the LSO will continue its series of family concerts; Muffitt said last
season’s concerts brought in 3,000 schoolchildren. “Our educational
initiative remains strong, but we have to be practical,” he said.
“We’re maintaining a broad interface with many different kinds of music
and many different kinds of programs."


2010/2011 MasterWorks Series


8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10: MasterWorks 1: Beethoven’s
Triple, with Trio Terzetto, featuring cellist and Okemos native Tanya
Ell


8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1: MasterWorks 2: Tchaikovsky & Sibelius,
with pianist Michael Gurt


8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4: MasterWorks 3: Songs
of Winter , with baritone David Small


8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 8:
MasterWorks 4: Exotic Sketches, with harpist Yolanda Kondonassis,


8
p.m. Saturday, March 26: MasterWorks 5: Passion & Fury, with Lansing native Melissa White, violinist


8 p.m. Saturday, April 16: MasterWorks 6: Exploring Gershwin & Ravel, with pianist Anton Nel


2010/2011 Pops Series


8
p.m. Friday, October 15: Cirque de la Symphonie


3 p.m. Sunday, December
12: Holiday Pops, featuring East Lansing native Glenn Seven Allen


8
p.m. Friday, February 24: Spectrum: The Music of Motown


2010/2011 Chamber Series


3
p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19, Plymouth Congregational Church: Icarus,
featuring flutist Richard Sherman, cellist Robert DeMaine and pianist
James Wilhelmsen


3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, Plymouth Congregational Church:
“A Bundle of Sticks,” featuring bassoonist Michael Kroth


8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 12 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13
at Dart Auditorium, Lansing Community College: CONNECT: Lansing
Symphony & Happendance


3 p.m. Sunday, March 13, Plymouth
Congregational Church: Arcos Trio, featuring violinist Seunghee Lee,
cellist Carl Donakowski and pianist Anthony Padilla.


2010/2011 Big Band Concerts


3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10 and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 6, Dart Auditorium, Lansing Community College


Lansing Symphony and Michigan State University College of Music


7 p.m. Sunday, April 10, St. Mary Cathedral, Lansing: Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, featuring the MSU University Chorale


Lansing Symphony: Behind the Scenes


6 p.m. Thursday, March 24, Wharton Center for Performing Arts


Ticket Information


Subscriptions
are now on sale; call (517) 487- 5001. First-time subscribers are
eligible for a 25 percent discount on their subscription.


Single tickets go on sale July 1 by phone or at www.LansingSymphony.org.


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