Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra Turns 40

Photo by Tyler Logan

Photo by Tyler Logan

The Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra’s 40th anniversary season starts now. In honor of this milestone, and the continued commitment to making quality orchestral music in our community, Music Director and Conductor Charles Latshaw has scheduled a season featuring local soloists.

The first concert of the season features Concertmaster Brian Krinke as solo violinist in Camille Saint-Saens’ Violin Concerto No. 3, Op. 61 in B minor. Krinke, the “newest” local of the season’s soloists, finds the camaraderie of Grand Junction’s musicians special. “Most of the orchestra’s principal players also teach and perform together at CMU, work with each others’ students, and therefore have stronger personal bonds than most orchestras.”

Krinke chose to perform the concerto because he celebrates the contrast between the fiery, virtuoso outer movements and the ethereal slow movement. He calls it “one of the most warmly beautiful pieces ever written” and even played the slow movement at his grandmother’s funeral.

In discussions with Latshaw about programming, Krinke suggested that, because the season begins with a tribute to great American composer Leonard Bernstein in the centennial year of his birth, it should end with a great American piece as well. He selected the Howard Hanson symphony that will conclude the season in May.

After holiday festivities, the season continues, featuring William Aikens performing Richard Strauss’ Oboe Concerto in D Major. Aikens speaks of facing endurance issues in performing the 28-minute-long piece. “I’m originally from Pittsburgh, and playing the oboe at Colorado altitude requires breathing stamina that is different than what is needed for performing at sea level.“

Aikens has a personal connection with the piece. He is a student of John De Lancie, an oboist who met Strauss as a soldier in Europe in 1945 and asked him to write an oboe concerto. Strauss declined at first, but eventually reconsidered.

The fourth classical concert of the upcoming season features three local soloists in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op. 56 in C Major. All three — Brian Krinke, violin; Kristen Yun, cello; and Arthur Houle, piano — are on faculty at CMU.

The last concert of the season to feature a soloist showcases longtime GJSO member Jane Kuenzel. She plays a flute sonata by Francis Poulenc, arranged for orchestra by Lennox Berkeley.

While acknowledging the challenge of performing as soloist, Kuenzel says, “The piece fits the instrument well, and I have played it a lot. I’m not so worried about dealing with the music as I am about what to wear. You need comfortable shoes to stand and play in.”

Paul LudwigMusic