The Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra’s (GJSO) 40th Anniversary Season continues with Mozart 40, a weekend featuring powerhouse composers Beethoven, Mozart, and Strauss. The concerts will be held in the Avalon Theatre on Saturday, February 9th at 7:30pm and Sunday, February 10th at 3pm.
The concerts open with Beethoven’s Overture to the The Creatures of Prometheus, followed by GJSO Principal Oboist William (Bill) Aikens tackling Strauss’ exceedingly difficult Concerto in D major for Oboe and Small Orchestra. Mozart’s Great G minor Symphony (40), unquestionably one of Mozart’s most greatly admired works, closes the concert.
Bill Aikens joined the music faculty at Colorado Mesa University in 2016. Prior to moving to Colorado, he earned his Doctor in Musical Arts degree in oboe performance at Arizona State University in December, 2014, where he studied with Martin Schuring. Bill performed with ensembles throughout the state of Arizona, including guest appearances with the Phoenix Symphony, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, the Arizona Bach Festival, the Paradise Winds and the Mill Avenue Chamber Players. He served as an adjunct professor at Estrella Mountain Community College and was the band director at the Desert Marigold School in south Phoenix.
A native of Pittsburgh, Bill earned his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education at Duquesne University and his Master’s degree in Performance at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. His teachers included Dr. Mark Ostoich, Scott Bell, Jim Gorton, Dwight Parry, Christopher Philpotts and Lon Bussell. Following his Master’s Degree, he held the position of Principal Oboist of the Great Falls Symphony Orchestra and was a member of the Chinook Winds Quintet in Great Falls, Montana for three years. During this time, he performed numerous concerts for students grades K-12 with the Chinook Winds Quintet and maintained his own private teaching studio. Bill currently holds the position of Principal Oboist of the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra. Bill remains active as a teacher and performer and currently resides in Grand Junction, Colorado with his wife and two children.
The Creatures of Prometheus is a ballet composed in 1801 by Ludwig van Beethoven. The ballet premiered on March 28, 1801 at the Burgtheater in Vienna and was given 28 performances. It is the only full length ballet by Beethoven.
The Concerto in D major for Oboe and Small Orchestra, was written by Richard Strauss in 1945. It was one of the last works he composed near the end of his life, during what is often described by biographers, journalists and music critics as his “Indian summer.” American oboist John de Lancie was a corporal in the U.S. Army stationed near where Strauss was living in April 1945, following World War II. As principal oboist of the Pittsburgh Orchestra in civilian life, he knew Strauss’ orchestral writing for oboe thoroughly, visited the composer in his home, and in the course of a long conversation asked him if he had ever considered writing an oboe concerto. Strauss answered simply “No”, and the topic was dropped. However, in the months to follow, the idea grew on him and he completed the short score of his Oboe Concerto on September 14, 1945, finishing the orchestration on October 25.
Symphony No. 40 in G minor was written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1788. It is sometimes referred to as the “Great G minor symphony”, to distinguish it from the “Little G minor symphony”, No. 25. Work on the symphony occupied an exceptionally productive Summer during which time he also completed his 39th and 41st symphonies. Author and conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt conjectured that Mozart composed the three symphonies as a unified work, pointing, among other things, to the fact that the Symphony No. 40, as the middle work, has no introduction (unlike No. 39) and does not have a finale of the scale of No. 41’s.
Mozart 40 is sponsored by the Grand Junction Symphony Guild. The Grand Junction Symphony Guild is devoted to raising funds for the support and promotion of the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra. Members of the Guild conduct a wide variety of fundraising events throughout the year to which the community is invited to attend. Guild financial support also enables the orchestra to provide various educational activities for the community.
The Grand Junction Symphony Guild will honor the GJSO’s forty successful seasons by hosting receptions following each concert at the Avalon Theatre this February 9th and 10th.
The receptions are free to concert attendees and will be held in the mezzanine lobby at the theater. Jun Watabe, GJSO principal clarinetist, and several other musicians will provide special music for the event. Light refreshments and a cash bar will be available.
Tickets for Mozart 40 range from $20-$40 for adults and just $5 for students and children. They can be purchased online at GJSO.org, by phone at 970-243-6787, or from the GJSO office at 414 Main Street. Tickets are also available at the Avalon Theatre Box Office one hour prior to each performance.