Expect Surprises at LASO’s Spring Concert Friday

Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra violinist Jane Duan. Photo by TK Thompson/ladailypost.com

By Bonnie Gordon

Beautiful music was wafting from the band room at Los Alamos High School as the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra (LASO) rehearsed for their Spring Concert, but a passerby may not have recognized the melodies.

LASO will perform “Polonaise” by Antonin Dvorak.

The performance is almost certainly the New Mexico premiere of the work, said Dr. Ivan Shulman, music director of LASO.

The piece was originally suggested to Shulman by his mother, and when he heard it a few years later, “I thought, mom is right,” Shulman said.

“It took awhile to locate the score in Prague, but then no one had the parts,” he said. “Then I heard a recording by the Detroit Symphony. I called them and they had the music. No on in the orchestra had heard the piece before.”

Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra violinist Chip Mielke. Photo by TK Thompson/ladailypost.com

Another rarely heard piece, “First Symphony,” by Russian composer Vasily Kalinnikov is also on the program

“It’s just lovely,” Shulman said. “It’s full of folk melodies. The orchestra has taken to it very well.”

This is the second concert Shulman has conducted as music director of LASO. His relative newness as music director helps explain the choice of the two pieces.

Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra Conductor Dr. Ivan Shulman. Photo by TK Thompson/ladailypost.com

“It helps a new conductor to work in unfamiliar territory, so we all learn to speak the same language musically,” Shulman said. “No one comes in with preconceived ideas about the music. The orchestra finds this music intriguing, and that’s important for a new conductor. A lot of what community orchestra is about is appealing to the musicians and the constituency. It’s exciting to play music for the first time.”

The third piece on the program is Mozart’s “Horn Concerto in E-flat major, K.495.”

French horn player John Hargreaves will be featured as a soloist.

Shulman juggles a busy surgical practice and his commitment to making music while commuting between Los Alamos and Los Angeles besides.

He also conducts the Los Angeles Doctors Orchestra.

“I had rehearsal in Los Alamos on Monday, a rehearsal in Los Angeles on Tuesday and I was back in Los Alamos on Thursday,” Shulman said. “I don’t think twice about it. Music is a passion and so is surgery.”

LASO is celebrating its 65th season in 2011-2012.

Members of the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra  during rehearsal last week with Conductor Dr. Ivan Shulman. Photo by TK Thompson/ladailypost.com

Founding member Rosemary O’Connor still plays with LASO.

From the beginning, LASO has been a true community orchestra, recruiting players of all ages.

Senior citizens share the stage with high school students in the 60 to 70-member orchestra.

Violinists Jane Duan and Chip Mielke are students at Los Alamos High School.

They were both attracted to the idea of playing in a large orchestra.

“The music is hard, but that makes it really fun,” Mielke said.

The students enjoy the freshness of the music performed by LASO.

“The music is really different. It’s a new experience,” Duan said.

The LASO Spring concert will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, April 27 at Crossroads Bible Church.

Tickets are $15 for adults. Students will be admitted free. Tickets are available at the door.

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