The Shepherd School Chamber and Symphony orchestras will offer their final performances of the academic year April 24 and 25, respectively, at 8 p.m. in Alice Pratt Brown Hall’s Stude Concert Hall. Larry Rachleff, the Walter Kris Hubert Professor of Orchestral Conducting, and Thomas Hong, associate conductor, will lead the orchestras.
The chamber orchestra’s April 24 performance will feature Beethoven’s “Coriolan Overture, Op. 62”; selections from Canteloube’s “Chants d’Auvergne,” featuring soprano soloist Susan Lorette Dunn; Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, featuring pianist Zhu Zhu; and Schubert’s Symphony No. 8, D. 759, B Minor, commonly known as the “Unfinished Symphony.”
Dunn, who has performed the Canteloube numerous times, said that the piece has special meaning for her. “These were actually the first pieces I sang with orchestra, and they have been a major part of my performing life ever since. The landscape and atmosphere of the Auvergne are captured richly and beautifully by Canteloube’s masterful setting of these folk songs, and the orchestra is lush and colorful, depicting shepherds and shepherdesses in the fields and the beauty of the Auvergne landscape.”
Zhu, a doctoral student of Robert Roux, calls the Liszt “a very captivating piece to perform.”
“It has one of the most exhilarating opening passages in the entire piano repertoire, (as well as) intimate duets between piano and other instrumentalists,” Zhu said.
The Rice Chorale and Houston Masterworks Chorus, which are directed by Professor of Music Thomas Jaber, will join the symphony orchestra for its April 25 performance. The program will include Strauss’ “Don Juan,” Op. 20; Dvorák’s Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104, featuring cellist Coleman Itzkoff and Ravel’s “Daphnis and Chloé,” Suites No. 1 and 2.
Itzkoff, a graduating senior and student of Desmond Hoebig, said it was incredibly difficult to express in words just how meaningful the upcoming performance is to him.
“I’ll be performing the greatest concerto ever written for my instrument, alongside my colleagues in the orchestra and my Shepherd family of the past four years, on the last day of my undergraduate education,” Itzkoff said. “It fills me with a confusing mix of emotions: pride for my four incredible years at Shepherd, melancholy that it will all soon be over and, of course, nervousness and excitement for the performance itself.”
Both performances are free. Tickets are required for the April 25 symphony orchestra concert and are available by contacting the Shepherd School Concert Office at 713-348-8000.