SHOALS SYMPHONY AT UNA OPENS SEASON OCT. 26
October 20, 2008
FLORENCE, Ala. — With an old master and a special guest pianist, the Shoals Symphony at UNA will open its 2008-09 season Oct. 26.
The 2 p.m. concert at the Shoals Theater in Florence will feature Czech composer Antonín Dvorák’s most famous symphony, Symphony No. 9 in E minor, opus 95 ("From the New World"), more commonly known as the "New World Symphony."
In the second half of the concert, the symphony will perform Frédéric Chopin’s Variations on Mozart’s “La ci darem la mano," opus 2, with a special performance by pianist Dr. Yi-Min Cai.
Dvorák’s “New World Symphony" was written in 1893 during his three-year tenure in New York City, in response to a commission from the New York Philharmonic. It was immediately acclaimed and had its world premiere at Carnegie Hall on Dec. 16, 1893.
A strong proponent of folk music whose native Bohemian folk melodies provided him with inspiration, Dvorák was interested in Native American music and the African-American spirituals he heard in the United States. Those melodies strongly influenced his “New World Symphony" and have made it one of the most popular in the modern repertory.
“The importance and grandeur of the Dvorák symphony cannot be denied," said Viljar Puu Weimann, conductor of the Shoals Symphony at UNA. “It is a piece every person should hear at least once performed live in the concert hall. And this is their opportunity!"
Weimann also said it is a privilege for the symphony to have Dr. Yi-Min Cai featured on the piano during the concert.
Cai, currently an associate professor of music at UNA, began her piano lessons at the age of five in her native China and was recognized as a prodigy by the age of 10. In 1983, she came to the United States to further her musical education, studying in Philadelphia and New York. In 1987, she won first prize in the Abraham and Phyllis Katz Young Musician Competition, sponsored by the Five-Town Music and Art Foundation in New York. At UNA she is the 2007-08 recipient of the Academic Affairs Award for Outstanding Teaching.
Guest performances are often highlights of the Shoals Symphony at UNA season, Weimann said, and others scheduled for this year will be the Hoffmeister Young Artist Competition Winner and the UNA Concerto Competition Winner. Upcoming concerts are: “Christmas in Vienna,’’ 2 p.m Dec. 7 at Norton Auditorium, UNA; “The Planets,’’ 2 p.m. March 1 at the Shoals Theater, Florence; and “Symphonic Cabaret: Symphony at the Movies,’’ 7 p.m. May 2 at the River Heritage Park in Florence.
The symphony was originally named the Tennessee Valley Orchestra when it was founded in 1979. The name was changed to the Shoals Symphony Association in 1985. In 2002, the symphony signed an affiliation agreement with UNA, thus becoming the Shoals Symphony at UNA. The symphony season runs from September through August, and concerts are made possible in part by a grant from the Alabama State Council of the Arts.
For more information on the 2008-09 season and where to get season tickets, please visit the symphony Web site at http://www.una.edu/shoals-symphony/.
Contacts: Viljar Puu Weimann, music director/conductor, 256-303-2116 (C); Allen G. Wall, president, 256-764-1000 (W); Cheryl N. Schmidt, public relations, 256-443-4173 (C).