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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Festival to recognize work of 20th-century composers

    Savannah Douglas
    Savannah Douglas / The Daily Wildcat The University of Arizona Wind Ensemble, conducted by Professor Gregg Hanson, rehearses on Tuesday. The UA Wind Ensemble will participate in the Barber and Britten music festival in October.

    This weekend, the School of Music will celebrate two of the 20th century’s most important and lesser known composers.

    The school’s Barber & Britten Music Festival will honor American composer Samuel Barber and British composer Benjamin Britten, both of whom, event organizers said, are best known for not being well-known.

    Performances throughout the weekend will include the UA Wind Ensemble, the Arizona Choir, the Arizona Symphony Orchestra and various solo artists. Additionally, the Fox Tucson Theatre will host a screening at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday of “Moonrise Kingdom,” the score for which was written by Britten.

    Daniel Asia, a professor of composition and the festival’s organizer, said he believes that these two particular composers are underappreciated because they hardly get a mention in music history, despite the impact their music has had.

    “Both wrote music we consider part of the repertoire,” Asia said, “but they didn’t make it into the story.”

    Though they are not well-known, those who have experienced their music have many positive things to say.

    “They are amazing composers,” said Thomas Cockrell, the conductor of the Arizona Symphony Orchestra, “Both have very lyrical styles. … They are very approachable and easy to listen to, but are challenging at the same time.”

    Organizers said the festival is a collaborative effort that brings together people from all areas of study in the School of Music, while also presenting a unique challenge for musicians.

    “These pieces are very challenging and virtuosic,” said Bruce Chamberlain, director of choral activities and conductor for the Arizona Choir, which will perform at the festival. “It presents the Tucson concert-going public with the opportunity to get immersed in the work of [these] composers.”

    The festival includes a symposium and a variety of large group pieces as well as smaller, more intimate chamber pieces designed for musicians from various concentrations.

    “It’s rare to find a festival situation where you find such diversity of the music of one composer,” Asia said.

    Glen Gross, a senior trumpet performance major who will be playing in the festival, said he enjoys the change of pace.

    “It gives you a chance to get inside the composer and understand how they think,” he said.

    The Barber & Britten Music Festival is special not only because the music is beautiful, but also because the festival will play host to a distinguished guest performer, Jeremy Huw Williams, a baritone singer from Wales.

    “This is the first time we’ve had a foreign performer at the festival,” Asia said. “[Williams] is a fabulous, fabulous singer.”

    The festival has taken place every year for the past six years, and aims to celebrate the music of 20th- and 21st-century composers, who Asia said need more attention.

    “With the country going to hell, the government shutting down, it’s a great chance to hear great music and put our mind on something more exalted than what’s on the news,” Gross said.

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