Fast forward the calendar from about 260 years ago to this Sunday afternoon, move the location from Vienna to Anniston and find such a special musical occasion again. This Sunday’s Fall Concert performed by the Jacksonville Community Orchestra is at 3 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Anniston. A program of great variety, it is enhanced by the music of Mozart, Haydn and Grieg.
The spotlight will be on Jacksonville State University and community musicians more than ever before. Director Chris Hosmer welcomes four new string players to the group this semester, and the orchestra celebrates 15 years as a university/community ensemble that presents concerts to the public each year.
The audience will hear a mix of the very old and the very new in musical hits. From the classical pieces of the mid-1700s to ballad and mood music of today, all the selections played Sunday are endurably popular.
Take When Joanna Loved Me, by R. Wells and J. Segal, for example. The ballad was recorded in 1964 and made popular by Tony Bennett. It has been arranged for the JSU Community Orchestra by Tracy Tyler, a retired music professor at JSU who taught percussion.
“The lyrics appealed to me,” Tyler said, “and it is a standard, still well liked. The chromatic passages in it made it appropriate for a vibraphone piece.” It’s music for slow, romantic dancing — no fox-trot dancer should be without it. Tyler will play the vibraphone Sunday, and it’s interesting to watch him strike the notes. The vibraphone is similar to the xylophone; one difference is that the vibraphone has steel bars and a pedal that, when pressed, causes the note to ring.
Sometimes words cannot illustrate one’s deepest feelings, but music can. James Woodward, now at JSU as assistant professor of mc in music theory and composition, wrote Hopes and Dreams 14 years ago when he was a freshman in college. It is fourth on Sunday’s program and the newest piece in the concert.
“It was about my aspirations [then] for the future,” he said, “and the work and struggles that still lie ahead.” Hopes and Dreams has also been performed by the Etowah Youth Orchestra.
Mozart’s Divertimento in D is the opening selection and an easy-listening piece, according to Hosmer. It calls back the time of outdoor fetes during early summers in Vienna when the scene would have been one of grandeur, rank and talent, according to Discovering Music by Howard D. McKinney and W.R. Anderson. The small orchestra’s first sound would be the cue for dressed-up guests to stop conversation, sit quietly or cluster around the musicians. From the perspective of an orchestra member, all three movements in this piece are inventions of great charm and spontaneity and it’s easy to imagine beautiful people at a beautiful event.
Trio in G is performed by W. Legare McIntosh, JSU’s music department head, Susan DiBiase and Rachel Sherrod. Nicknamed “The Gypsy Suite” because of its Hungarian tone color, the fast-moving piece is exhilarating. After this, the full orchestra is back in action with Holberg Suite. Born in Norway, Ludvig Holberg was an important Scandinavian playwright. Written in 1884, the suite has five movements and starts with Praeludium, which has galloping rhythm and lots of imagined adventure while Air, the fourth movement, is serious in mood. Gavotte, a sprightly dance that fuels energy and vitality, will be familiar to listeners.
“This is an impressive piece, full of crescendos and accents.” Hosmer said. “It’s what we needed to end with a bang.”
The orchestra needs a few more string musicians and invites anyone interested to see Hosmer after the concert or call 256-782-5063.