‘Fantasy in Blue’ premieres at joint choir concert

Lizzie Martinez

The Linfield Chamber Orchestra has saved the best for last.

The final concert of the year, at First Baptist Church on April 11 at 8 p.m., will feature the second performance of the original work “Fantasy in Blue,” composed by Oregonian John Ranney. He will accompany the orchestra on piano for his piece, as well as a collaboration with the Linfield choirs.

The world premiere of the composition was four days earlier in Ice Auditorium. Eight hundred fourth graders from the McMinnville School District and the surrounding areas visited Linfield for a taste of symphony music.

Chamber Orchestra Administrator John P. Bierly admits the impact of the first-ever showing may have been lost on the children, but he said the program is a valuable one.

“It builds our audience for the next generation,” Bierly said.

Freshman cellist Tracy Beaver said the fourth graders seemed to enjoy the pieces, though they were not as attentive as a typical symphony audience.

“They were more likely to come up after and say, ‘I like your hair,’ than ‘You played well,’” Beaver said. “But it’s good to let them know that music is there.”

In debuting the piece, the chamber orchestra had the unique opportunity to be the first group to interpret the music in an orchestra setting—as it was previously played by two pianos and a trumpet—and to have the composer rehearse with them.

Sophomore violinist Heidi Vanden Bos said the musicians usually ask the conductor questions about interpreting the music; however, in this instance, fifth-year Conductor Michael Gesme deferred to Ranney.

“We have the ultimate source for questions,” Vanden Bos said. “It gives us a better chance of interpreting the music the way he intended. It’s a new experience to perform with the composer.”

The collaboration between Ranney and the orchestra stems from his friendship with Professor of Music Joan Paddock. The piece was written with Paddock in mind, Gesme said. It features Paddock on the piccolo trumpet and flugle horn.

Ranney’s piece is not the only exciting part of the concert. Overtures will introduce and conclude the concert, while a choir and orchestra collaboration and a suite of songs will keep the middle lively.

The “Tragic Overture” by Johannes Brahms will open the concert. The second piece features the Linfield Community Choir and Concert Choir paired with the orchestra.

The two groups, vocal and instrumental, collaborate each year. This year, the piece selected is “Te Deum Laudamus,” translated as “We Praise Thee, O God,” composed by Zoltan Kodaly.

The second half is less serious and begins with Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt Suite No. 1,” a staple of many children’s concerts.

“This is music everyone knows, even if they can’t name it as being from Peer Gynt,” Gesme said. “You know it just from being around.”

The lighter “Overture to Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna,” by Franz von Suppe ends the concert by featuring Adjunct Professor of Music Sherill Roberts on the cello.

Beaver said the concert is interesting in its variation because every composition is in a different style, from jazz to classical to a Latin hymn.

The Linfield Chamber Orchestra is a mentoring organization that pairs professional musicians with Linfield students who audition and earn a credit for playing. It is one of only two similar organizations in the Northwest, Bierly said.

The structure of the orchestra allows students to experience a higher-level repertoire of music.

“If you’re fairly serious about your music, it’s something you would enjoy and be well qualified for,” Vanden Bos said.

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