By Rachelle Hughes
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–Soul satisfying from beginning to end, The Orchestra of Southern Utah’s finale concert of the season, Glorious Galaxies, filled the Heritage Center Theater with an emotional and entertaining musical journey.
As usual, OSU approached their concert with a theme, but there is nothing ordinary about OSU’s concerts, and especially this finale, which brought more than a typical night of orchestral music to its audience. Rousing popular music from Star Wars, a world premiere of a new orchestra and voice composition by local musician and educator Alex J. Byers, entertaining and moving vocals by past SUU alumni, Matthew Clegg and aerial acrobatics in conjunction with OSU’s performance of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” OSU blended classic with contemporary music and art forms throughout the concert.
As conductor Xun Sun took the stage and the orchestra members began playing, the music began softly, gently, and full of wonder with the beginning of John Williams’ “The Star Wars Epic, Part II.” The music moved suddenly to the dramatic and iconic movement well known for the Star Wars movies. This popular and well loved modern music was followed by the orchestra and tenor, Matthew Clegg’s rendition of “La Donna e Mobile” from the opera Rigoletto, a popular and catchy piece in its own right.
But true to OSU’s dedication to keep music new and relevant and present, this 19th century piece was followed by Alex Byer’s world premiere orchestra and vocal piece, “Consider the Heavens,” sung by Clegg. OSU commissioned Beyer’s to compose a musical piece for its finale concert that would fit into its theme of Glorious Galaxies, but not in the way that Byers was expecting. They wanted the music to reflect the journey of those who battle cancer. For Byers this composition became a very personal journey as he worked to create something that felt very truthful. “It would be an insult to the survivors of such an ordeal and to the family members left behind to sit through seven minutes of saccharine. No we have to be real,” Byers said of his creative process. Byers did create something with three movements that felt emotionally charged and progressive. The music stirred emotions, of contemplation, fear, determination and hope.
In the second half of the concert, OSU pulled out of its entertainment sleeve an exciting addition of contemporary visual artistry to accompany the three movements of “The Planets.” Special guests, Aerobatics Performing Arts from Draper, Utah brought four young aerial artists to spin, climb, and move through the air on the aerial hoop and hammock in their interpretation of OSU’s music. Bravo to OSU and the Aerobatics Performing Arts for offering a visual and auditory delight that kept the audience fully engaged from beginning to end.
It is obvious that OSU and its team of musicians, are willing to push the idea of what a traditional orchestra concert should be. OSU ended its season by spreading its love of music to Cedar City audiences in surprising and genius ways, proving that music should be a vehicle of emotion, entertainment and culture. No wonder they are receiving awards and accolades for their musical talents.