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Bemidji Brass Quintet to take the spotlight in BSO's first concert of the season

The quintet will lead the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra on “Shadowcatcher,” Eric Ewazen's concerto for brass and orchestra, on Sunday, Oct. 2.

Bemidji Brass Quintet.jpg
Members of the Bemidji Brass Quintet pictured from left: Alyssa Konecne, Kyle Riess, Eve Sumsky, Scott Guidry and Jeff Johnson.
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BEMIDJI — They’re accustomed to sitting with fellow musicians in the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra eyeing the baton of conductor Beverly Everett. But this time they’ll head to the front of the stage.

The Bemidji Brass Quintet will be featured in the season-opening concert at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2, at the Bemidji High School Auditorium.

The quintet, with Kyle Riess and Scott Guidry on trumpet, Eve Sumsky on French horn, Alyssa Konecne on trombone and Jeff Johnson on bass trombone, will lead the BSO on “Shadowcatcher,” Eric Ewazen's concerto for brass and orchestra.

“I am so excited to do this piece with the quintet,” Everett said. “These are all incredible musicians and colleagues who have been faithful members of the Bemidji Symphony. I am honored to finally be featuring them ‘out front’ in this super interesting and beautiful piece.”

The orchestra also will perform Symphony No. 4 by Florence Price in this first of six concerts with the theme of “Musical Escapes.” Subsequent concerts are set for Nov. 13, Dec. 6, Feb. 19, March 26 and April 23.

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It’s the BSO’s first full season since 2018-19, and Everett says things are looking up.

“We’re climbing back up to our season ticket numbers that we had pre-Covid,” she said. “I’m excited to have a full season with the pandemic a little bit more in our rearview mirrors.”

“Shadowcatcher” was a nickname given to Edwin Curtis, who was one of America’s premier photographers and ethnologists. His gift for photography led him to an investigation of the Native Americans living on the Seattle waterfront. His photograph “Homeward” won Curtis the highest award in a photographic exhibition contest.

“Each movement of the work is inspired by and based on a photo by Curtis,” Everett said, “so it has to do very much with Native American themes.”

Composer Ewazen, a faculty member at the Juilliard School, will be in attendance on Sunday and will speak to the audience about his work. During the performance, slides of the photos that “Shadowcatcher” is based on will be shown on the screen.

There is an interesting story behind the BSO’s other piece to be performed Sunday. Florence Price’s Fourth Symphony was never performed during her lifetime. She died in 1953. The score was among the hundreds of musical manuscripts and other papers found in an abandoned garage south of Chicago in 2009. The work was posthumously premiered in 2018.

Price was known for synthesizing the music of her African-American heritage with stereotypically White forms and genres, melding musical styles that were traditionally kept apart.

The many solos in the Fourth Symphony, featuring virtually every instrument of the orchestra, transform the group into an assembly of soloists, while the scoring for the brass and percussion sections evokes the military bands that are everywhere in wartime.

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“The movements are very soulful,” Everett said. “They almost sound like spirituals, even though they don’t have a recognizable tune.”

Tickets are available with cash or check at the door, in advance at Lueken’s Village Foods North and South or online at bemidjisymphony.org. Prices are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors 62 and older, and $10 for college students with ID. Students in grades K-12 will be admitted free. Season tickets also will be available for purchase.

Related Topics: MUSICTHINGS TO DO
Dennis Doeden, former publisher of the Bemidji Pioneer, is a feature reporter. He is a graduate of Metropolitan State University with a degree in Communications Management.
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