Cedar City and the Orchestra of Southern Utah Dazzles with a Spectacular Performance of Handel’s Messiah

The Shakespeare festival season ended in October, and snow and colder temperatures arrived in Cedar City. However, the Holiday season’s warmth and traditional charm are on display in Cedar City and cut through the winter season’s cold and snow. The performing arts and music seem to be woven in the fabric of this community and their expression extends to the holiday season as well as throughout the entire year.

During December, we attended Christmas favorites such as the Southern University of Utah annual Christmas concert entitled “Somewhere in my Memory”, an SUU sponsored piano recital called “Piano Monster Concert” and a perennial Christmas favorite “Handel’s Messiah” performed by the Orchestra of Southern Utah. The beautiful city Christmas lights and the many musical performances dazzled the community and visitor alike at the Cedar City Heritage Center.


Heritage and History


I had the privilege of attending a rehearsal session of Handel’s Messiah and meeting the Orchestra of Southern Utah Administrator, Patron and Historian, Sara Penny. We spoke with Sara and talked at length about the Orchestra of Southern Utah origins and historical events. Sara provided an overview of those who contributed to the unique character of Cedar City’s musical excellence and community participation. From Fiddlers Canyon, to the Heritage Center concert hall; from the beginnings of the Orchestra of Southern Utah and to the many accomplishments, accolades and awards.

Earlier that day I visited the Main Street park and came upon a statue of one of Cedar City’s most prominent citizens, Helen Foster Snow. Ties to the Orchestra of Southern Utah as Sara Penny explained, are established and play out in relationships that are nurtured and transcend the boundaries of both time and place. A unique interplay of Cedar City’s communities and families with their local government and businesses and a strong relationship with the Southern Utah University College of the Performing Arts provides an unparalleled measure of musical success and excellence.

Please join me for a visit with Sara Penny. You may note some of the rehearsal music playing in the background, so listen and watch this interview!

 

 

 

 


The Players


The most notable of the players, is of course, from a time long ago.

George Frideric Handel
(German: Georg Friedrich Händel; pronounced [ˈhɛndəl]) (23 February 1685 — 14 April 1759) was a German-British Baroque composer, famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Handel was born in 1685, in a family indifferent to music. He received critical musical training in Halle, Hamburg and Italy before settling in London (1712) and becoming a naturalised British subject in 1727.[1] By then he was strongly influenced by the great composers of the Italian Baroque and the middle-German polyphonic choral tradition. Within fifteen years, Handel, a dramatic genius, started three commercial opera companies to supply the English nobility with Italian opera, but the public came to hear the vocal bravura of the soloists rather than the music. In 1737 he had a physical breakdown, changed direction creatively and addressed the middle class with Alexander’s Feast (1736) which was well received. Handel then made a transition to English choral works. After his success with Messiah (1742) he never performed an Italian opera again. Handel was only partly successful with his performances of English Oratorio on mythical or biblical themes, but when he arranged a performance of Messiah to benefit the Foundling Hospital (1750) the critique ended. The pathos of Handel’s oratorio is an ethical one, they are hallowed not by liturgical dignity but by the moral ideals of humanity.[2] Almost blind, and having lived in England for almost fifty years, he died a respected and rich man.

Handel is regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time, not only because of his Water Music, and Music for the Royal Fireworks and since the late 1960s, with the revival of baroque music and original instrument interest in Handel’s opera seria also revived. Handel composed forty operas in about thirty years; some are considered masterpieces, with many sweeping arias and much admired improvisations. His operas contain remarkable human characterization by a composer not known for his love affairs.

The more current players and performers are:

Dr. Xun Sun – Conductor
Dr. Xun Sun has served as the Music Director/Conductor of the Orchestra of Southern Utah since 2003. Dr. Sun has made many appearances over the years in concert series and educational programs. Under his leadership, the OSU world premiered the symphonic suite Spanish Trail Suite by Marshall McDonald and Steve Nelson. In June 2008, the League of American Orchestras presented OSU with an Award of Excellence in the Annual Gold Book Online competition and an Audrey Baird Audience Development Award, making OSU the only orchestra to receive these awards from the League of American Orchestras that year.
Dr. Xun Sun is also the Director of Orchestral Activities at Southern Utah University. As a tenured faculty member, his teaching duties include that of conducting the University Symphony Orchestra and String Ensemble. In addition, he teaches courses in Advanced Instrumental Conducting and Applied Instruction of Violin at the Music Department. Dr. Xun Sun has been named The 30 Professions of the Year of 2015 by Musical America. He also received award of 2015 Educator of the Year Award from American String Teachers Association Utah Chapter, and 2014 Board of Trustees Award of Excellence by Southern Utah University.

Professor Xun Sun has continually broadened his professional career as an orchestral conductor. His most recent performance was conducting Henan Symphony Orchestra, Anhui Symphony, Hunan Symphony and Hubei Symphony Orchestra. He conducted the world renowned China Philharmonic Orchestra in recording a new CD of title on America Journey , music by American composers Marshall McDonald and Steve Nelson. In 2007, he was invited to conduct the Lviv Philharmonic in the 8th International Contemporary Music Festival in Ukraine. Mr. Sun also conducted Carlisle Floyd’s opera Susanna, the opera of Hansel and Gretel by Humperdinck and Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute and Don Giovanni. In 2011 he conducted the world premiere of the Modern Dance Drama Helen’s Dream combined production of SUU and Hubei Opera and Dance Drama Theatre of China. As the founder and director, Professor Sun continues to teach the annual Hunan Conductor’s Workshop in Hunan, China.

Jackie Riddle-Jackson – Chorale Director.                 A native of Cedar City, Utah, Jackie was appointed Director of Orchestra of Southern Utah Chorale in 2015. In addition to her community conducting responsibilities she teaches applied voice, music for the elementary teacher and class voice at Southern Utah University.
Mrs. Jackson is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association and National Association of Teachers of Singing.

 

                          Gary Player – Trumpet                                           Gary Player a Southern Utah University Alumni is featured in this 79th. performance of Messiah and is being honored for his dedication to this and many other Orchestra of Southern Utah and Southern Utah University concert performances.

 

       Dr. Christian Bohnenstengel – Harpsicord           Dr. Bohnenstengel brings his keyboard skills to Handel’s Messiah and a harpsicord performance which embodies the instruments role in the classical baroque musical sound of the 17th and 18th century.

      Alex Byers – Assistant Chorale Director                            And the Byers Family – Soloists (Alex, Tahlia, Jessie) and Chorale (Lee, Luene)
The Byers family brings their vocal talents to Messiah and their dedication to this musical art form by inspiring, teaching and developing ongoing musical involvement of the families and communities of Cedar City and its surrounds. The traditions of musical performance and dedication to the musical art form is woven into the fabric of the community and is expressed by its families.

And the More Than One Hundred Singers and Players

The dedication of the more than one hundred singers and players who come together to dazzle audiences around Christmas time with a spectacular performance of Haendel’s Messiah is indeed a remarkable and unique phenomenon.

Almost at curtain time we had the privilege of talking to just a few of the folks that helped in making this 79th Orchestra of Southern Utah performance of Handel’s Messiah a dazzling and beautifully amazing event. Please join me and Rebekah Hughes OSU Manager, Dr. Xun Sun OSU Musical Director and Harold Shirley OSU President for brief comments and an introduction by Harold Shirley of this 79th performance of Handel’s Messiah.


The Oratorio – Handel’s Messiah


And now, please kick back, relax and enjoy the full presentation of “Handel’s Messiah” from the Cedar City, Utah Heritage Center 2019 Performance. Please note, Handel’s Messiah is a TWO HOUR performance and is presented here in its entirety. Please watch all of it.

Southern Utah University Shines with a “True Light: Accessing Stillness” Choral Performance

Less than one hundred miles north of Mesquite is what at first appears to be a sleepy small town, but it is the home of the Shakespearean festivals and Southern Utah University (SUU). A late September visit to Cedar City and a walk around the University campus yielded more than the usual Shakespearean Festival theatre tickets. The University and Cedar City provide a wealth of entertainment not just during the Shakespearean festival season but all year long. The Symphony Orchestra of Southern Utah as well as the University put on some amazing, dazzling and top notch entertainment events. I would rate the SUU School of music among the best in the country.

As the Shakespearean Festival 2019 season came to a close on October 4, SUU sponsored its annual choral event for 2019 titled “True Light: Acessing Stillness”. It was a privilege to hear and see this beautiful presentation and a memorable performance of the SUU Concert Choir, the Luminosa Choir, the Opus Choir and the special visiting high school choir guests.

I will ask that you watch the following presentation in its entirety in order to appreciate the dedication to excellence, the long hours of practice, and the talent brought to this masterful vocal expression of music. You will also be pleased to note that there is passion for this performance art being displayed by all that participated in this choral presentation. Please watch:

We thank you and your students for the music and all the joy it brings.

Dr. Krystal Rickard McCoy is assistant professor of choral education at Southern Utah University (SUU) where she teaches choral literature, methods, advanced conducting, applied voice and conducts the Luminosa (Women’s Choir). In addition, she advises the ACDA student chapter at SUU.

Dr. McCoy began her teaching career in high school choral music where she taught in the New Jersey Public School System for five years. Under her direction, the choral ensembles won superior awards at competitions, frequently performed in Carnegie Hall, and traveled to Sydney, Australia to perform in the Sydney Opera House. Her prior collegiate appointments include the College of Southern Maryland and University of Delaware. Most recently, Dr. McCoy focused on creating community choral programs in Southern Maryland for all ages. She founded and was the Artistic Director of Choral Activities for St. Maries Choral Arts, a community choral organization that provides singing opportunities for second graders through adults, encompassing five ensembles. She was co-founder of the Chesapeake Children’s Chorus and consulted with Encore Creativity for Older Adults, the largest choral organization in the nation for older adults.

Dr. McCoy adjudicates at choral festivals and clinics in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia. She presents at conferences and choral reading sessions and conducts honor choirs at various levels.  Her education includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Bucknell University, a Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting from Westminster Choir College, and a Doctorate of Musical Art in Music Education from Boston University. She studied conducting with Joseph Flummerfelt, Andrew Megill, James Jordan and William Payn. She performs frequently as a soprano soloist in choral works such as Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Handel’s Messiah. She was the soprano in residence for the Bach Cantata Ensemble of Southern Maryland. Her research interests include community engagement, adult music education, and preservice music education.

The University sponsores and participates in numerous events at the Heritage Center and at the Shakespearean theatres in Cedar City.  The Orchestra of Southern Utah also performs their annual premiere event of Handel’s Messiah and it was free in 2019.

Here is a schedule of the 2019-2020 season of SUU upcoming events:

Turning Up The Summer Heat at the Casablanca in Mesquite

August is always hot in Mesquite and just when you thought the heat was just unbearable, EC Adams turned it up a notch at the Casablanca with the “Spreading the Love Tour – Music of the Seventies”. Actually the show was totally cool, given all the heat.  The audience was totally engaged in dancing and singing along with EC.  Memories of the 70s came flowing back rejuvenating the enthusiatic listeners and turning them into active dancer, shakers and movers.  

 

 

Here is the opening set of songs that you will recognize from the life and times of the melodies we grew up with – well some of us anyway (those with grandchildren?). 

 

                                                                     

 

Great entertainment and fun continued with a medley of more 70s melodies and and ending with a “Soul Train”.  Be sure to watch the second part of the show.  

 

 

 

 

59S Previews New UVLED Disinfection Products

In January 2019 we visited the Shenzhen UVLED Optical 59S products exhibit at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. These products will help to contain the spread of infectious bacteria, virus and parasites lingering on common household items.

In January we saw previews of 59S product prototypes ranging from UVLED light boxes, to large diaper bag lightboxes and UVLED wands. The display and the promises of a chemical and detergent free methods and the results of bacterial kill rates demonstrated at the exhibit were quite impressive. I was looking forward to availability of the 59S product line in the US. Please view this video of the visit and the news of product availability in the US.





Please pardon the error in the videos. The correct product brand is 59S not S59. BTW 59S stands for 59 seconds.

Legislative Session Ends – Major Party Voter Share Down

By Doug Goodman -Founder & Executive Director Nevadans for Election Reform

Last month we asked if the political maneuvering during the legislative session would drive voter share of the major political parties down. Based on the voter registration numbers for June 2019 just released by the secretary of state, that could be the case.  

Across all tracked demographics; Statewide, Clark County, Washoe County, rural counties, among younger and older voters, both the Democratic and Republican Party lost voter share. The only exception, the Democratic Party held steady among those 18 to 34 years of age. At the same time, Non-Partisan gained share among all demographics and the minor parties (Independent American, Libertarian, and others) were mixed, either holding steady or gaining.

Raw growth was not any kinder to the major parties. Their percentage of growth lagged behind Non-Partisan and the minor parties. The highest rate of growth was seen by the Independent American and Libertarian parties.

State-Wide

Party Change in # Voters % Change % Voter Share Difference in Voter Share %
D 3,073 0.52% 38.06% -0.01%
R 2,054 0.39% 33.55% -0.06%
NP 2,785 0.81% 22.11% 0.06%
IAP 602 0.88% 4.41% 0.01%
LIB 153 0.97% 1.01% 0.00%
Other 16 0.12% 0.86% 0.00%
Total not D or R 28.39% 0.07

 Other includes Green Party, Natural Law Party, and others

Clark County

Party Change in # Voters % Change % Voter Share Difference in Voter Share %
D 2,708 0.60% 41.78% -0.02%
R 1,526 0.48% 29.30% -0.05%
NP 2,245 0.91% 23.02% 0.06%
IAP 483 1.08% 4.15% 0.02%
LIB 124 1.26% 0.92% 0.01%
Other 7 0.08% 0.83% 0.00%
Total not D or R 28.92% 0.09%

Other includes Green Party, Natural Law Party, and others

Washoe County

Party Change in # Voters % Change % Voter Share Difference in Voter Share %
D 318 0.33% 34.92% -0.02%
R 299 0.29% 36.85% -0.03%
NP 350 0.59% 21.32% 0.05%
IAP 61 0.49% 4.47% 0.01%
LIB 14 0.40% 1.28% 0.01%
Other 2 0.06% 1.17% -0.01%
Total not D or R 28.24% 0.06%

Other includes Green Party, Natural Law Party, and others

Rural Counties

Party Change in # Voters % Change % Voter Share Difference in Voter Share %
D 47 0.10% 22.52% -0.04%
R 229 0.22% 51.69% -0.03%
NP 190 0.51% 18.37% 0.04%
IAP 58 0.50% 5.72% 0.01%
LIB 15 0.65% 1.15% 0.00%
Other 7 0.63% 0.55% 0.00%
Total not D or R 25.79% 0.05

Other includes Green Party, Natural Law Party, and others

18 – 34 Year Old

Party Change in # Voters % Change % Voter Share Difference in Voter Share %
D 1,019 0.63% 38.45% 0.00%
R 327 0.34% 22.75% -0.07%
NP 1,090 0.83% 31.20% 0.06%
IAP 210 1.10% 4.58% 0.02%
LIB 53 0.73% 1.74% 0.00%
Other -8 -0.15% 1.27% -0.01%
Total not D or R 38.80% 0.07%

Other includes Green Party, Natural Law Party, and other

55+

Party Change in # Voters % Change % Voter Share Difference in Voter Share %
D 1,213 0.48% 38.38% -0.02%
R 1,291 0.48% 41.43% -0.03%
NP 783 0.80% 15.07% 0.04%
IAP 199 0.73% 4.15% 0.01%
LIB 25 0.85% 0.45% 0.00%
Other 15 0.44% 0.52% 0.00%
Total not D or R 20.194% 0.05%

Other includes Green Party, Natural Law Party, and others

By district voter share changes.

Congressional Districts

Party # Districts Lose Voter Share # Districts Gain Voter Share # Districts No Change
Democratic 4 0 0
Republican 4 0 0
Non-Partisan 0 4 0
IAP 0 4 0
LIB 0 2 2
Other 1 0 3

CD 1, CD 2, and CD 4 (75 percent of the districts) continue to show the number of voters not affiliated with either major party is greater than or within 5% of the number of voters registered to one of the major parties.

State Senate Districts

Party # Districts Lose Voter Share # Districts Gain Voter Share # Districts No Change
Democratic 16 4 1
Republican 18 1 2
Non-Partisan 2 19 0
IAP 1 16 4
LIB 3 8 10
Other 7 0 14

In 16 districts (76.19%) the number of voters registered as Non-Partisan or the total number not affiliated with either major party is greater than or within 5% of the number of voters registered to one of the major parties.

State Assembly Districts

Party # Districts Lose Voter Share # Districts Gain Voter Share # Districts No Change
Democratic 28 11 3
Republican 35 4 3
Non-Partisan 4 36 2
IAP 4 31 7
LIB 8 21 13
Other 14 3 25

In 34 districts (81%) the number of voters registered as Non-Partisan or the total number not affiliated with either major party is greater than or within 5% of the number of voters registered to one of the major parties.

We are now entering the presidential election cycle. The Democratic Party held their first candidate debate. Automatic voter registration approved by the voters in 2018 will be implemented. Beginning with early voting next year, voters will be able to register to vote or update their voter registration when they go to the polls to vote; same-day voter registration signed into law by Governor Sisolak. We don’t know how both these programs will impact voter registration or turnout. We will be watching.

The Mesquite Weekly adds a new section – “Artful Things”

The Mesquite Weekly in keeping with devoting this space to veritable interests is hereby presenting the MW “Artful Things” pages.  This section will cover a variety of topics and interest on subject matters that include music, literature, sports, hiking, photography and travel.

The Artful Things section kicks off its first edition with Rising Sports Stars and a pre-election must read book review.

Menus on the right and on top will get you there.

Springtime in Mesquite with Music and Dance.

Mesquite Saturday Night Out with Spectrum at the Casablanca

Spring in the southwest comes early and everyone celebrates with song and dance and a bit of partying. Mesquitians know how to make the good times roll.
Saturday Night out in Mesquite can provide some real class entertainment and culture. Hats off to the Casablanca Resort and the Stateline Casino for bringing big city entertainment to our town. A sell out crowd came to hear a performance of Spectrum, a band from Las Vegas bringing you lots of oldies and MoTown retro. Mesquitians came to listen and to dance and party and sing along with the band.   Here are a few of the more noteworty tunes:

Mesquite Saturday Night Out with Bottoms Up at the Stateline Casino

We picked up the pace a few weeks after the Spectrum at the Stateline Casino in Mesquite where Bottoms Up was providing some C&W to move the dancin boots. C&W fans from Mesquite and the Virgin Valley area from southern Utah, Bunkerville and the Moapa valley came to sing along, dance and have a good time. On the left side you will find a samplin of the music and the dancin and the partyin. Hee haw and a yippy cay yay:

Earlier in March, Rock and a Roll from the 70’s was on tap at the Casablanca with REO Speedwagon retro performed by Rich Rath.

Wow what a trip down memory lane.

 

 

 

 

 

Also in March we heard from the Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra (see our previous article) and the symphony performed again on April 6 to close out the season.

 

Springtime is a joyous season always and Mesquite celebrates this time (not to mention the other seasons as well) with a gusto. The talent that Mesquite attracts to the city is equal if not better than any larger town in the West.

The Southern Nevada Symphony plays in Mesquite

Mesquite Saturday Night

Saturday Night out in Mesquite can provide some real class entertainment and culture. Hats off to the Casablanca Resort for bringing big city entertainment to our town. A sell out crowd came to hear a performance by the Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dr. Selmer Spitzer featuring guest soloist and pianist Dr. Christian Bohnenstengel from Southern Utah University. Some of Mesquites’ own local talent also performed in the orchestra. Please enjoy this magical musical treat.

The Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra was established in 2014, with its inaugural concert in Mesquite, Nevada at the Mesquite Community Theatre. Our (the Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra) mission of the organization is to share our compassion and dedication for music with everyone.  Our purpose is to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to experience live music through professional concert performances. Along with good schools, libraries cultural components of the local areas, the symphony is a significant aspect of our cultural structure.

Dr. Selmer Spitzer, the musical director and conductor of the Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra, is a native of North Dakota. He has been active in music since age 6 playing piano, and active in a country church choir since age 12, played tuba in high school. He switched to clarinet as a music education major at Lakeland College, Sheboygan, WI, attended Vandercook College of Music, Chicago, IL, and received his M.M.Ed, and then continued at the University of Sarasota, Sarasota, FL, where he earned his Ph.D. in Administration and Music Education. Dr. Spitzer studied under such well known musicians as arranger Forest Bucktel, percussionist, Haskel Harr, and clarinet from clarinetist and composer Edgar P. Thiessen.
He started teaching in high schools in Williston, ND, Spearfish, SD, Hanford, CA; accepted a position of Instrumental Music Director at Victor Valley College, Victorville, CA, as department chairman, conductor of bands and the High Desert Symphony Orchestra. After retiring he returned to North Dakota as Director of Instrumental Music at the University of Jamestown, Jamestown, ND, retired a second time and accepted an interim position as an associate professor, directing the Dickinson State University Wind Ensemble and Marching Band. Dr. Spitzer has organized string ensembles, and full orchestras in high schools and universities. He is credited for organizing high school honor groups in North Dakota, South Dakota and California including the North Dakota Intercolliate Honor Band. His passion continues to be conducting instrumental ensembles.

The featured and special guest for the February 23, 2019 performance was Dr. Christian Bohnenstengel.  Dr. Christian Bohnenstengel feels equally at home in a wide range of musical genres. He was recently featured as soloist in Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the Orchestra of Southern Utah. Christian is a founding member of Southern Utah University’s Faculty Jazz Combo Kind of Blue and frequently performs with Jazz ensembles and musicians throughout southern Utah. Praised as “…a master of contrasts…” (Aalener Nachrichten) and for his ability to “…put the audience into a state of sheer awe…” (Gmünder Tagespost), Christian’s performances have taken him all over the United States, to South America and to Europe.
Christian has performed on public radio and presented at state, regional, national and international conferences. Upcoming projects include a CD recording with clarinetist Dr. Jessica Lindsey that will be released on Albany Records. Christian received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Missouri Western State University. He earned Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His primary teachers include Jerry Anderson and Mark Clinton, piano, and Quentin Faulkner, harpsichord and organ. He has been Director of Keyboard Studies at SUU since 2011.

Dr. Bohnenstengel also serves on the SN Symphony Orchestra’s President’s Advisory Council as do many of our local area (Mesquite, St.George and Moapa valley) residents who perform, provide leadership and financial support for this world class symphony orchestra, our cultural diamond in the desert.

Visit the Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra website for the many that have performed, worked hard and contributed financially and helped to bring this magnificent musical magic to our area.