Shoals Symphony at UNA to Host Annual Winter Concert March 7

Feb. 18, 2010


FLORENCE, Ala. – The Shoals Symphony at UNA will present its annual winter concert, Music From Comrade Russia, at 2 p.m. March 7 at the Florence Middle School Freshman Center Auditorium.

The show will feature the Shoals Symphony’s performance of Symphony #5, by Dimitri Shostakovich, as well as the winners of the UNA Concerto Competition.

Shoals Symphony at UNA to Host Annual Winter Concert March 7

The Symphony #5 is perhaps Shostakovich’s most popular and most often performed composition. Since Shostakovich lived most of his life under the Soviet regime, his music reflects the conflict between his personal convictions and the Soviet Communist Party’s requirements. In 1936, Shostakovich composed the opera “Lady Macbeth,” which was deemed unsuitable by the Communist Party’s Artistic Committee and resulted in his removal from the party’s “accepted composers list.” It was during this period that Shostakovich produced the Symphony #5. He later regained his place on the list.

“To me, as one who lived under Communist rule, this is a very personal and emotional piece,” said Viljar Weimann, conductor of the Shoals Symphony at UNA. “I believe this concert will be a powerful and beautiful experience for our audience.”

The Shoals Symphony concert will also feature John Russell McCollum, trumpeter, and Wen Zhao, violinist, both winners of the 2010 UNA Concerto Competition.

A native of Hillsboro, Ala., and 2002 graduate of East Lawrence County High School, McCollum has played trumpet since age 10. While attending UNA as a music major, he took lessons from Dr. Edd Jones, former UNA band director. After graduating in 2007, he returned to UNA the following year to pursue a degree in trumpet performance. During his time at UNA, McCollum has been a lead trumpeter in the Pride of Dixie Marching Band, Concert Band, Jazz Combo, Studio Jazz Band, Brass Ensemble and Pep Band.

Zhao, from Beijing, China, started playing piano at age 3. Two years later, she began violin lessons and has been playing violin ever since. Her first violin teacher was Xian Zhi Huang, who guided Zhao’s development in basic skills in technique and sound production. A few years later, Zhao studied with the most renowned violin professor in China, Yoaji Lin, who helped her understand the depths of music and its expression through the violin. During her middle- and high-school years, Zhao was the winner of the prestigious Beijing Strings Competition. Upon her graduation from Capital University in July 2009 with a degree in economics and literature, Zhao was accepted to UNA as a violin performance major. She is currently planning to pursue a master’s degree in economics.

“Our Concerto Competition winners are both marvelously talented musicians,” Weimann said. “I would like to encourage everyone to come out to the concert.”

Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students. Advance tickets are available online at www.una.edu/shoals_symphony or at the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts in downtown Florence. Tickets will also be available at the door.