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San Juan Symphony launches 38th season

Thomas Heuser is music director of the San Juan Symphony. (Courtesy of J. Reynolds)
Dedicates opener to memory of Walter Dear

A flurry of events will mark the opening of the San Juan Symphony Orchestra’s 38th season this weekend. Music Director Thomas Heuser has expanded the standard yearly four-concert schedule by offering a fresh set of extras. He will also continue his popular preconcert talks, Musically Speaking, one-hour before the formal concerts.

The first season pair has been subtitled “Exuberance.”

Pianist Kara Huber will be the soloist with the San Juan Symphony in its opening pair of concerts for the 38th season on Saturday and Sunday. (Courtesy of Paul Steward)

“Our season kicks off with a program of incredible energy and virtuosity,” Heuser said. “Tchaikovsky’s ‘Fifth Symphony’ is a perennial favorite with audiences and musicians alike and one of mine. Thrilling rhythms and unforgettable melodies are featured in all four movements, and the triumphant finale teems with excitement.”

The massive, 47-minute symphony has found a permanent place in the heart of music lovers since the composer conducted the first performance on Nov. 17, 1888, in St. Petersburg. Through four stirring movements, the music explores doubt, despair, intense joy and triumph. Tchaikovsky’s memorable motif, which some have suggested is the voice of Fate, can be heard throughout. Yes, the music will stay with you long after the concert is over.

If you go

WHAT: “Exuberance,” San Juan Symphony 38th Season, Music Director Thomas Heuser, works by Beach and Tchaikovsky.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, Durango. Henderson Performance Hall, Farmington.

TICKETS: Durango single tickets range from $21 for students to $64 adults. Details: Call 247-7567 or visit www.durangoconcerts.com.


WHAT: Masterclass by Pianist Kara Huber.

WHEN: 4:30 p.m. Monday.

WHERE: Roshong Recital Hall at Fort Lewis College, 1000 Rim Drive.



WHAT: Solo Recital by Pianist Kara Huber.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday.

WHERE: Roshong Recital Hall at Fort Lewis College, 1000 Rim Drive.

TICKETS: $24 adults, $5 students. Details: Call 247-7567 or visit www.durangoconcerts.com.

The concert will begin with a rare, but increasingly performed work: Amy Cheney Beach’s Piano Concerto in C-sharp minor with pianist Kara Huber as soloist. It’s a four-movement, 37-minute concerto that you can listen to on YouTube if you want to dip into its ocean of sound.

Huber, will be making her debut here, but she and Heuser have known each other since they both studied at the University of Cincinnati Conservatory. Sher holds a doctorate from that institution and concertizes throughout the United States. She has appeared with orchestras from Louisville to Scarborough, and she arrives in Durango from recitals and festivals in Indiana and Michigan.

The late Walter Moore Dear, II, is seen at the piano. He died earlier this year, and the opening night concert is dedicated to his memory. (Courtesy of J. Reynolds)

Huber will augment her Southwest visit with a free masterclass at Fort Lewis College at 4:30 p.m. Monday in Roshong Recital Hall. Three advanced high school students will play for Huber and receive feedback. It’s a format in which players and audience members gain rare insights into music.

Huber will also give the first Beyond the Concert Hall performance in the orchestra’s new extended offerings. At 7 p.m. Tuesday, she will present a recital of works by women composers including Joan Tower, Cecile Chaminade, Florence Price, Beach and others.

“This will be the first concert in the new 3rd Avenue Series, which brings our organization into a variety of venues,” Heuser said. “We are fortunate to begin the season with such a distinguished guest, and we are honored to dedicate our opening night to the loving memory of Walter Moore Dear, II. We know how he loved a piano.”

Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.