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Jean Oelrich
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Led by new Music Director Gregory X. Whitmore, Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble kicks off season by playing with gusto for the concert, “Exclamations!”

Orange County, Calif. — October 27, 2014

Free concert includes stimulating wind ensemble repertoire by Alfred Reed, Johan Halvorsen and Eric Whitacre

Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble (PSYWE) opens its 2014-15 season with a new music director, Gregory X. Whitmore, who leads the ensemble in a lively display of youthful musicality and captivating wind repertoire. Titled “Exclamations!” the fall concert features two works by one of the 20th century’s most prolific composers of music for concert band, Alfred Reed. His majestic “Alleluia! Laudamus Te!” opens the program, while the authentic folk melodies of “Armenian Dances” serve as the finale. In between, Scandinavian composer Johan Halvorsen’s “Entry March of the Boyars”—a stately yet lively piece, tinged with exoticism and full of rhythmic excitement—is followed by Eric Whitacre’s beautiful poem-based composition “Lux Aurumque,” originally written for a virtual choir. PSYWE’s concert takes place on Sunday, Nov. 16, at 1 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

Thanks to a generous sponsorship by Barbara Roberts, tickets to this concert are free with general admission seating. To reserve a ticket, call the box office at (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org. Tickets may also be picked up at the door.

 “I have known and had immense artistic and musical respect for Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony for quite some time,” says Maestro Whitmore. “It was an honor to receive a personal call from Maestro St.Clair this past spring to invite me to audition for the position of music director of Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble. The ensemble is terrific, and I am greatly looking forward to collaborating with these talented young artists throughout the season.”

 

Also director of bands at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Whitmore’s new directorship follows a 13-year career as director of bands at Cathedral City High School and conductor of the College of the Desert Symphony Band in Palm Desert. He has also conducted ensembles in notable venues in England, France and Germany, as well as in Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center and Walt Disney Concert Hall.

“In my inaugural season as music director of PSYWE, I want to do some big things,” says Whitmore. “PSYWE is the only wind ensemble that will perform at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall this season; this places us in the unique position of carrying the banner for wind literature and wind ensembles through what and how we play. This is an awesome responsibility.”

Reed’s “Alleluia! Laudamus Te!” marks the occasion with a brass fanfare that boils with rich contrapuntal interaction. A lyrical melody follows, and the piece gradually builds to a rich warmth before reaching a sweeping majestic climax representative of the divine.

Halvorson began his musical career as a violinist, and worked in Scandinavia as a professor before he started composing music as an adult. He was close friends with Edvard Grieg, and while his music continues the Norwegian Romantic School of composition, it is also inspired by the French Romantics. Halvorson’s “Entry March of the Boyars” developed out of a fascination with the city of Bucharest. The music is majestic but jovial and includes a dance-like figure in the orchestral accompaniment that provides rhythmic excitement.

“My programming for the first concert, and all of the concerts set before the PSYWE is about offering the ensemble the opportunity to perform works from across the wind repertory that will inspire, challenge and offer them the opportunity to develop as artists throughout the music-making process,” says Whitmore.

Whitacre’s “Lux Aurumque” is based on the poem “Light and Gold” by Edward Esch, and was first recorded by a virtual choir of 185 singers from 12 countries. The music is deceivingly simple but has rich melodies and lush counterpoint underlain by complex harmonic structures. Smooth rhythms, quiet dynamics and enriched harmonies create a glowing, shimmering halo of sound.

To conclude his first concert as music director, Whitmore finishes with Reed’s “Armenian Dances,” five movements that reflect the Armenian folk songs collected by Komitas Verdapet. The music is full of bouncy rhythms, a jubilant and stirring climax, and a lively, folk-like atmosphere.

“The students are hard-working, talented, dedicated and a pleasure to collaborate with,” says Whitmore. “They understand the artistic responsibility it takes to be in an ensemble such as this, and I am excited to see them each week in rehearsal. I see them as ‘colleagues in creativity,’ and we work in that way each rehearsal.”

Whitmore received his bachelor’s degree in instrumental music education from The University of Michigan School of Music, Theater and Dance in Ann Arbor. There, he actively performed in the concert and symphony bands and led the University of Michigan Marching Band as “Michigan’s Man Up Front.” He received his master’s degree in music with an emphasis in wind conducting from California State University, Fullerton. Whitmore is currently a doctoral candidate at Columbia University in New York. Whitmore was included in the 2005-06 edition of the National Honor Roll’s “Outstanding American Teachers,” is a Cathedral City Chamber of Commerce Golden Apple Educator Award Recipient and Orion Award Recipient for Excellence in Education, and he was also selected to represent the State of California by School Band and Orchestra Magazine in the 2008 edition of “50 Band Directors Who Make a Difference.”

Established in 2007, PSYWE started under the direction of well-known music educator and recipient of the “Band Educator of the Year” award from the California Music Educators Association, Michael J. Corrigan, with support from Larry Woody and the Woody Youth Fund. PYSWE offers performance opportunities to instrumentalists in grades 8-12, provides members with a high-quality and innovative artistic experience, and strives to encourage musical and personal growth through the art of performance. Each season students enjoy interaction with Maestro St.Clair, as well as with guest artists and the Symphony’s professional musicians. Each season, PSYWE presents a three-concert series in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall and other high-quality community venues in Orange County. Members are selected through annual auditions which take place every year in June.