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ASU School of Music’s orchestral program pursues diverse, innovative musical journey

ASU Symphony Orchestra

ASU symphony orchestra students with conductor Jeffery Meyer.

April 23, 2018

In pursuit of the diverse and innovative musical journey Projecting All Voices, an initiative of Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the School of Music’s orchestral program is leading the way nationally in weaving together compelling programming, high artistic standards and a message of inclusion and understanding.

“There is an ever-increasing awareness of the importance of representing all voices in our concert halls and classrooms throughout the United States and especially at ASU,” said Jeffery Meyer, ASU School of Music associate professor and director of orchestras. “When an audience member attends an ASU Symphony Orchestra performance, the diversity on stage is striking, both in terms of our student body and our guest artists.”

For its final concert performance season, the ASU Symphony Orchestra presents soprano Danielle Talamantes, an international recitalist of Mexican heritage who made her Carnegie Hall debut in a sold-out solo recital in 2007.

Talamantes will perform 7:30 p.m. April 26 with the ASU Chamber Singers, Choral Union and Concert Choir in an exuberant rendition of Poulenc’s “Gloria.”

Talamantes has sung as soprano soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Choralis, Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin, National Philharmonic Chorale and Orchestra, Oratorio Society of Virginia, Seoul Philharmonic, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Trujillo Symphony Orchestra of Peru and The United States Army Chorus.

“There is a history of singers and dancers in my family and I’m thrilled to carry on the tradition,” Talamantes said. “My father is a first-generation citizen of the United States and his parents and extended family hail from Zacatecas, Mexico. While my debut album, “Canciones españolas,” is made up entirely of music from Spain, I felt it important to bring further to the light a glimpse of the wealth of gorgeous repertoire in the Spanish language.”

The 2017-18 symphony and chamber orchestra season has featured renowned guest artists from a wide variety of backgrounds and musical styles in addition to numerous ASU faculty including Gordon Hawkins, Daniel Bernard Roumain and Stephanie Weiss. Meyer said he is proud that in this year’s 10-concert season, there were five soloists and four composers of color including two women composers and two women conductors.

This year’s guest artists included composer Narong Prangcharoen from Thailand; sitar virtuoso Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan from India; composer Christopher Norby, who teaches film and video game composition at ASU; a world-premiere performance of ASU graduate composer Brice L. Johnson’s "Zámbiza;" ASU’s Stephanie Weiss singing De Falla’s “El Amor Brujo” suite inspired by the songs and dialect of the Andalusian Spanish gypsies; two concerts at the Tempe Center for the Arts and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts that featured ASU’s Gordon Hawkins singing Mahler’s “Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer),” and “Harvest,” a piece by Daniel Bernard Roumain that focuses on the collective culture of the African American spiritual and showcased Hawkins, the ASU Gospel Choir and Jason Thompson, director; and innovative, cross-disciplinary artists Tonia Ko, who gave a one-of-a-kind, interactive preconcert performance exploring the unique capacities of everyday materials, a concert featuring her symphony “Strange Sounds and Explosions Worldwide” and a performance of Jennifer Higdon’s fiery “Percussion Concerto.”

Final concert of the season

Who: ASU Symphony Orchestra with the ASU Chamber Singers, Choral Union and Concert Choir. Jeffery Meyer, conductor

What: Francis Poulenc’s "Gloria" with Danielle Talamantes, guest soprano; Mahler “Symphony No 1, D major (Titan)”

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 26, ASU Gammage

Details: To purchase tickets, visit ASU Gammage.

Meyer said the 2018–19 orchestra season will be announced soon and will include an enticing variety of music of our time and important masterworks of the past. A highlight will be a large-scale production of Bernstein’s monumental Mass in collaboration with the Lyric Opera Theatre, ASU Choral Program and Phoenix Boys Choir and featuring the world-renowned baritone Jubilant Sykes and a university-wide series of symposia with activities planned by the Barrett Honors College, the Institute for Humanities Research, the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, Religious Studies, Jewish Studies and others.

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