Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra

Gábor Bence Molnár

At 4 pm on Sunday, Nov 10 at Chenery Auditorium, the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra will open its season with four works which conductor Andrew Koehler sums up as 'Shifting Landscapes.' They are Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave), which depicts a remote place in Scotland; The Accursed Huntsman, Cesar Franck's mythic tone poem; an extremely rare piece by Z. Noskowski inspired by a mountain lake in Poland, and Poems of the Sea by Ernst Bloch. 

Carol Corey

Sometimes, having a leading role in an orchestra can serve as the first step to musical exploration. The Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra, which recently completed its 80th season, is a starting ground for several chamber ensembles, one of which recently visited WMUK for music and conversation with Cara Lieurance. The KJSO Woodwind Quintet is: flutist Emma Temple, a sophomore at Gull Lake High School; clarinetist Kaoru Murai, a senior from Portage Central High School; oboist Mei Lanting, a senior at Kalamazoo Central; bassoonist Jackson Crause, a senior at Portage Central;  and horn player Andrew Burhans, a sophomore at Portage Central. 

In the Takeda Performance Studio at WMUK, the musicians talk about everything from how they chose their instruments, to whom they study with, to what it was like to visit South Africa with the Junior Symphony in June of 2018. Crause shares his appreciation for Andrew Koehler, the conductor of the KJSO, and Temple says being in the quintet has given her confidence in more situations. Musical expression has advantages over verbal, says Murai, and Lanting looks back on her seven seasons with the KJSO. Burhans embraces the horn's dual nature as a woodwind and a brass instrument.

Together, the quintet plays J.S. Bach's "Little" Fugue in G minor, BWV 578, the second movement, "Columbines (Snowmass Lake)" from the Roaring Fork Quintet by Eric Ewazen; and the "Shanty No. 3" from Three Shanties by Malcolm Arnold.

The Kalamazoo Bach Festival Chorus, Kalamazoo Children's Chorus, three opera soloists and the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra will unite to perform the improbably popular Carmina Burana, by Carl Orff, on Sunday, April 28 at 4 pm in Chenery Auditorium. This 1937 cantata survived an early association with Nazi Germany to become a universal celebration of spring, life, love, and the inexorable turning of the wheel of fate, expressed in poetry by anonymous monks-in-training in the 12th and early 13th centuries.

Who was Carl Orff? Andrew Koehler, who prepared the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony and will conduct the performance, explains the way the composer's different interests coalesced into his biggest success. Kalamazoo Bach Festival artistic director Chris Ludwa explains the parts played by the soloists and chorus, and Darlene Sang says the children in the Treble Choir have worked hard on the different languages and will be amazed when the final rehearsals bring together over 125 people to perform the piece.

Peter Stenzel, via Flickr all creative commons

Paul Dukas' beloved The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Paul Hindemith's orchestral showpiece Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber both deal with transformation, according to Kalamazoo Junior Symphony conductor Andrew Koehler. In addition, the two featured soloists for the Feb 17 concert - oboist Mei Lanting, a senior at Kalamazoo Central, and trombonist Hana Beloglavec, a KJSO alumna and professor of trombone at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge - represent the development musicians can make in a short period of time between high school, studying at the college level, and becoming a professional. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Koehler and Beloglavec discuss the music on the program and the Beloglavec's path to becoming a professor and a member of the Seraph Brass

Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra

Conductor Andrew Koehler talks about the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony's recent trip to South Africa, and previews the music on the first concert of the new season, "Around the World in 80 Years." It will be held Sunday at 4 pm in Chenery Auditorium. 

Bronze medalist Maya Anjali Buchanan, a violinist who won the prize at the Stulberg International String Competition last May, will be featured as a soloist in Korngold's Violin Concerto.