Symphony Orchestra presents ‘Spotlight on Students’ March 3

From left, Matthew Wheeler, Keegan Bamford and Mason Lamb will be featured at the Spotlight on Students

The Fresno State Symphony Orchestra, directed by Dr. Thomas Loewenheim, will present its third concert of the season at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 3, in the Department of Music Concert Hall. The concert, titled “Spotlight on Students,” will focus on three students from the Music Department.

The concert will feature this year’s Concerto Competition winner, cellist Keegan Bamford, in the first movement of David Popper’s Second Cello Concerto. The orchestra will perform “Thoreau’s Walden: Five Scenes,” a world premiere of a new composition by two graduate composition students Mason Lamb and Matthew Wheeler based on Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden.” 

“This musical homage to Thoreau represents the perfect fusion between the arts and the humanities,” said Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. “Dr. [Karen] Bell’s deep love and knowledge of Thoreau’s writing is the guiding force for this musical creation.  I am sincerely grateful for Dr. Bell’s support of this project, and am in awe of our students’ creativity and artistry.”

Last summer, composition Prof. Dr. Kenneth Froelich offered Lamb and Wheeler the opportunity to orchestrate a new piece, based on sketches by former Fresno State Philosophy Professor Karen Bell. The two musicians accepted the challenge, dividing up the workload.

Realizing that the book reflected simple living in natural surroundings, a declaration of independence and a voyage of spiritual discovery, I knew that, with the themes and sketches by Bell, I had to portray these elements in the orchestration,” Wheeler said. “A true blessing was the collaboration with Karen Bell. Karen was completely open to any ideas that I had and let me run with it.”

Lamb added: “There’s a gentle irony about collaborating on a piece celebrating the most famous tome of a man dedicated to the art of solitude and the power of the individual. Still, there is much to be said about the unique nature of music borne not from a single mind, but from the workings of a team. … Together, we have walked through the essential themes of Walden and used the unique scope and timbres that only a symphony can provide to bring the written words into aural reality.”

The orchestra will close the concert with Alexander Glazunov’s Russian romantic and nationalistic Fifth Symphony in B-flat Major Op. 55, titled “Heroic.”

Ticket cost: $15 general, $10 employees and seniors, $5 students. Click here for additional information.


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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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