LPO’s  ‘Tales of Orient’ Sunday at LCC

LPO’s ‘Tales of the Orient’
Concert Sunday at LCC

This Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008 at 4 p.m., the third concert in the “Myths & Legends Season” of the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra will take place at Laredo Community College’s Guadalupe and Lilia Martinez Fine Arts Center.

The concert will bring to life Persian stories and will feature unique Chinese instruments.

Among the most exotic things on show during this concert will be the U.S. premiere of the piece “The Overlord of West Chu” by Chinese composer Zhan Hao He for Gu Zheng and Orchestra which will be performed by Taiwanese native Dr. Susan Liu, LCC instructor of keyboard.

“A Gu Zheng is a native Chinese instrument related to the Zither family that dates back to about 206 BC,” explained Dr. Liu, “It has been the most popular instrument in China since ancient times and often is played both in chamber ensembles as well as solo.”

“Anyone who has been to a Chinese restaurant will recognize the sound of this very melodic and evocative instrument,” added LPO music director Brendan Townsend.

For several years Dr. Liu has performed in prestigious venues around the U.S. as a member of the ensemble working with the New Tang Dynasty Television Network celebrating the Chinese New Year. A sold-out concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall brought accolades for her compositions and her performance on this uniquely Chinese instrument.

The “Overlord of West Chu” tells the story of the tragic end to the life of Xiang Yu (the Overlord of West Chu) at the end of the Chu-Han Contention (206-203 BC). The composer describes the work as “a profound and exquisite portrayal of the tragic situation, the extremely painful rebukes of his people and the grief and indignation of the Overlord. The music touches the sadness, homesickness and beautiful farewell to his beloved.”

Opening up the concert is a local premiere of “Seven Passages” by the Iranian composer Behezhad Ranjbaran who now teaches composition at the Juilliard School of Music. This work, which is part of a trilogy, tells part of the story of the great, historical epic Persian poem Shahmaneh. “Seven Passages” specifically tells the story of Rostram and his heroic labors while rescuing the king.

Concluding the concert is a work that many will know and love, the great symphonic suite “Scheherazade” by Rimsky Korsakov.

Scheherazade was a beautiful young concubine of the Sultan. After one of his mistresses had been unfaithful, he vowed to take a different wife every day and have her executed the next. Scheherazade eluded death for 1001 nights by weaving incredible stories of adventure and magic. After 1001 nights the sultan rescinded his order and Scheherazade was spared, due to her story-telling ability.

Rimsky Korsakov selected four episodes to set to music, magically weaving the adventures of Sinbad, the Kaliph, and the Kalendar Prince with the magic of Scheherazade and the grumpy Sultan. It remains one of the most popular pieces of orchestral music of all time.

“There is magic in story-telling,” said music director Townsend, “It is a part of the culture of many nations around the world—we even opened up this season with an Irish folk story—but sometimes words alone are not enough. Nothing can evoke images like music, and these three pieces are spectacular.”

Individual tickets cost $25 adults and $17 for seniors. LCC and TAMIU students with an ID card get free admission.

For more information about the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra, contact Townsend at 956.326.3039 or e-mail btownsend@tamiu.edu

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu