UW Symphony Orchestra

University of Wyoming Music Department

The University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra starts a new season on Thursday evening. The opening concert is a reaction to the country’s current political turmoil and Wyoming’s budget cuts. 

UW Symphony director Michael Griffith says his goal is to make this season an uplifting one. He’s calling it a “Season of Joy.”

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Doomed love is the theme of this week’s University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra 2016-17 season finale. It includes Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, as well as works by four other composers, including recent UW eminent composer in residence, Libby Larsen.

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra begins its new season under the direction of a guest conductor. As part of a so-called ‘podium exchange,’ UW Symphony director Michael Griffith conducted an American piece in Brazil.

On Thursday, Brazilian conductor Carlos Henrique Costa will conduct two works from his home country in Laramie. One piece, Museu da Inconfidência, by César Guerra-Peixe, draws on folkloric styles. The other piece, Psalmus, by living composer João Guilherme Ripper, reflects the modern urban experience.

The final University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra concert of the season puts the saxophone on center stage. UW professor Scott Turpen will perform John Adams’ Saxophone Concerto Thursday, May 5.

“It challenges me in ways I’ve never been challenged as a saxophonist, yet it isn’t extremely high, it doesn’t use a bunch of honks and peeps and snorts, which sometimes you hear in some contemporary classical music. It’s just the sound of the saxophone, but it’s music like I’ve never studied before,” says Turpen.

The new University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra season features music spanning five centuries. Symphony director Michael Griffith says he strives to provide programming that covers three key areas: the classics, contemporary works, and hidden gems.

A famous Chinese orchestral work and a famous Chinese violinist are the centerpieces of the University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra’s season finale on Thursday, May 1.

The Butterfly Lovers Concerto is one the most beloved classical works in China. It was written in 1956 and is now making inroads into the western repertoire.

On Thursday, March 6, the University of Wyoming Symphony is collaborating with two guest artists: jazz harmonica virtuoso Gregoire Maret and visiting conductor Tonu Kalam. Kalam has directed professional orchestras around the world, and for more than two decades, he’s directed the University of North Carolina Symphony Orchestra. Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer asked Kalam what he most enjoys about conducting student orchestras.

VanHouten Photography

Maestro Gerard Schwarz raises his baton at the University of Wyoming. The former Seattle Symphony Orchestra director has 13 Grammy nominations and two Emmy wins to his credit, among numerous other awards. Tonight (Feb. 6), he’ll conduct three university ensembles in a public performance at the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts at 7:30 PM. UW music department chair Theresa Bogard says Schwarz is honing the student groups’ sound.

The University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra’s new season promises classics, but some of these favorites might be new to American ears. Case in point, the Butterfly Lovers Concerto is famous in China, but likely new to audiences here. (They’ll have to wait until May for that performance.)