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Arizona Symphony Orchestra and UA Symphonic Choir hosting memorial concert to honor Paula Fan


Thomas Cockrell conducting the Arizona Symphony Orchestra. (Courtesy of Elizabeth Schauer)

The Arizona Symphony Orchestra and the University of Arizona Symphonic Choir will perform Johannes Brahms’ extensive choral symphony on Sunday, April 30, to honor and remember the memory of a Fred Fox School of Music professor who died in February.

Concert pianist Paula Fan taught piano for 40 years and earned the distinction of Regents Professor Emerita — the highest academic merit for faculty who have been recognized for national and international distinction.

Fan died at 71 after falling ill while on tour in Australia with vocalist Jeremy Huw Williams. In addition to being a teacher, Fan was the principal pianist for the Tucson Symphony Orchestra for 31 years, according to her biography on the Arizona Arts website.

Thomas Cockrell, the director of orchestral studies and Arizona Symphony Orchestra, will conduct the ensemble’s performance of Brahms’ largest work, “Ein Deutsches Requiem” or German Requiem. This work involves an orchestra, choir and several soloists. 

Brahms’ requiem focuses on the living and offers comfort, unlike traditional requiems in Roman Catholic liturgies that begin with prayers for the dead. 

Elizabeth Schauer, director of choral activities at Fred Fox and conductor for UA Symphonic Choir, prepared the chorus for this performance.

“The chorus has to be prepared in an event, so [that] when Cockrell worked with the orchestra [and] so when the two ensembles come together, they know the music and can continue to polish it up until the performance,” Schauer said.

Soprano, Asleif Willmer and baritone, Octavio Moreno will be the soloists. Both are graduates of the Fred Fox School of Music. 

Willmer has been featured as a soloist internationally and nationally. She has sung leading roles in several opera houses and received top awards from many organizations.

Moreno, who earned his doctorate in music from the UA, has won awards for his performances including the Linus Lerner international opera competition. He represented Mexico in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and the Paris International competition. 

First year doctoral student Jordan Shomper and second year doctoral student Mengda Jiang are helping to conduct the performance.

“We’re combining our forces together and are just going to create a really beautiful piece of music,” Shomper said. “I know that whoever comes to the concert will leave transformed.” 

Tickets are $10 through the Fred Fox School of Music website.

What to know if you go

What: Arizona Symphony Orchestra and UA Symphonic Choir concert, performing “Ein Deutsches Requiem,” Op. 45 by Johannes Brahms

Presented by: The Fred Fox School of Music at the UA

When: Sunday, April 30, at 3:30 p.m.

Where: Crowder Hall at 1017 N. Olive Road

Tickets: $10 admission from the Fred Fox School of Music website  

*El Inde Arizona is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.

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