Artists in Action: January is alive with the sounds of symphony and opera
Jan 11, 2014 | 5653 views |  0 comments | 99 99 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Learning, appreciating and enjoying — that’s how to get the most out of the arts, and this month’s events let us partake in all three.

Wednesday, Mike Gagliardo, conductor and director of the Etowah Youth Orchestras will give a program titled “Symphony 101” at the Public Library of Anniston-Calhoun County to coincide with the Knox Concert Series’ next offering, the Haifa Symphony Orchestra of Israel on Jan. 25. Then it’s double the entertainment Friday and Saturday when the Jacksonville Opera Theatre presents musical monologue “Let’s Talk” followed by the one-act operetta, “Trial by Jury.”

‘Symphony 101’ talks composers

Gagliardo’s talk at the library last January gave an overview of the symphony’s basic elements. This Wednesday at 2 p.m., he will focus on one subject — the role of conductors.

Conductors are interpretive artists, according to “How to Listen to Music” by Aaron Copeland. To a small degree their personality and philosophy is reflected in the music they present, the author explains.

“But their work is largely based on their knowledge, what they have studied and from their area of expertise,” Gagliardo adds. “There are conductors that only conduct Baroque, for example. There are some that conduct only contemporary music.”

Gagliardo will also share his knowledge on “Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Opus 95, From the New World” by Antonin Dvorak, which the Israeli orchestra will perform Jan. 25. Dvorak, a Bohemian, came to New York in 1892 as director of the National Conservatory and lived in America until 1895. American in spirit, his most famous work was completed in 1893, according to “Great Symphonies” by Sigmund Spaeth.

To help create future audiences, Gagliardo is assisting Knox with their outreach education program, giving talks on composers and orchestras to students at Anniston, Wellborn, Saks and Oxford high schools.

JOT operetta next weekend

“The Golden Age of Opera is always the present,” the late music critic Herbert Kupferberg once stated.

“Trial by Jury,” JOT’s next production, is firmly rooted in the present. The story takes place in present-day America, although it was written as a spoof on the British judicial system. Jilted by her lover, the plaintiff, played by Noya Levy, has taken him to court for breach of promise. The jury has been coached by the court to side with her, in order to be "fair and impartial." The accused, played by Dylan McCombs, offers every possible legal argument, including a proposal of marriage to both his former lover and his new attachment. The judge (LaRue Bowman) has reached his high office by marrying a rich attorney's daughter and doesn't know bigamy from burglary. All the while, “silence in court!” is shouted in vain.

Nathan Wight, director of operatic activities at JSU, describes the show as “all music, no dialogue.”

“It’s about 30 minutes long, fast-moving and very worthwhile to see,” he said.

JOT recently presented the opera “Romeo and Juliet.” However, since its founding in 2003, the theater has primarily performed operettas, which have basically the same components as opera, if less complex, and contain more singable and memorable melodies, Wight explained.

Written in 1875, “Trial” was the first collaboration by Gilbert and Sullivan and was considered a hit, according to Kupferberg’s book, “Opera.” The English librettist-composer team went on to turn out a series of well-known works, among them “H.M.S. Pinafore” and “The Mikado.”

Directed by Debra Mantua, the performance will take place Jan. 17-18. at 7:30 p.m. in the Performance Center in Mason Hall at Jacksonville State University.

As a prelude to “Trial,” JSU senior Ellen Abney will deliver a one-woman show about a singer running late for her own recital. Accompanied by pianist Kathy Gregory, Abney will sing and talk to her audience from a script the performer calls “clever and funny.”

Explains Wight, “We wanted to showcase Ellen’s talent before she graduates.”

Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults, seniors and military. To purchase tickets, call 800-838-3006 or order online at
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