The Woods Cross High School auditorium will be the setting for two concerts by the Bountiful Symphony Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
Joining conductor Joel Rosenberg will be soprano Donna Dalton, in a performance of Strauss' "Four Last Songs," University of Utah pianist Susan Duehlmeier as soloist in the Ravel G major Piano Concerto and, in the premiere of Brigham City composer Ricks Knudson's "Cycles of Change" for alto and wind sextet, mezzo-soprano Mary Ann Dresher.The orchestra will also be heard in the Overture to Rossini's "L'Italiana in Algeri" and Vivaldi's "Concerto alla Rustica" for strings.
According to Rosenberg, the concert represents the culmination of an effort begun in 1986, when he was invited to direct the newly founded orchestra by Mayor Dean Stahle and the Bountiful City Council.
"Their creativity and energy is remarkable," Rosenberg says, noting that plans have already been drawn up for a downtown civic center. The first concert came later that year, a program of music for string orchestra by Bartok and Vivaldi, followed by a pops program the following summer in conjunction with the South Davis Community Choir. (Earlier the orchestra had accompanied the choir in its presentation of Mendelssohn's "Elijah.")
"We started small," Rosenberg acknowledges. "Now we're up to about 60 players and this is really our grandest undertaking so far." At present, he says, about a third of the players come from Bountiful, the others being drawn from as far north as Ogden and as far south as Provo. And unlike most community orchestras, its members are paid, by special arrangement with the musicians union.
No less professional is Rosenberg himself, well known as a conductor and instrumentalist locally and, in recent years, internationally.
The son of University of Utah piano professor Gladys Gladstone, he is a two-time veteran of the Utah Symphony's annual "Salute to Youth" concerts, having soloed with them in 1963 and 1968. Subsequently he studied at both Oberlin University and New York's Juilliard School of Music and in 1970 was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Rome, with violinist Bruno Giuranna and conductor Franco Ferrara.
Since then he has served on the faculties of Elmira College and the University of Massachusetts, as assistant conductor of the New Mexico Symphony and as guest conductor for both Ballet West and Utah Opera. (The year of his Fulbright grant he also served as principal viola under Pierre Boulez at the Blossom Festival.)
In 1987 he journeyed to South Africa to guest conduct the PACT Ballet (a trip that ironically landed him on the U.N. Center Against Apartheid's blacklist, just below singer Della Reese), followed by a trip to New Zealand last November to direct performances of "Madama Butterfly" with the Auckland Philharmonia. Ironic in terms of the South African visit in that Rosenberg says one of the reasons he went, after having checked with the State Department, was to talk against apartheid and see conditions for himself.
"Not only was I active in the civil-rights movement at Oberlin but I've done performances for Amnesty International wherever I've been." Once there, he says, "I was horrified to see what the people's existence was, even worse than what we see on the newscasts. So it wasn't a superficial tour."
Reviews, he insists, were uniformly good, something also true of the New Zealand visit. "Much of the success of this production," wrote Rex Fisher in the New Zealand Herald, "lies at the hands of Joel Rosenberg, . . . who as musical director had the Auckland Philharmonia in the right form to carry the whole along at the right pace and sensitivity." Tana Werner, in the Auckland Star, likewise singled out the "flowing accompaniment."
At present Rosenberg and the Bountiful orchestra have no set schedule, although they will be collaborating with the South Davis Choir again in May (in the Mozart Requiem) and there will likely be another pops concert this summer. "It's really the hope of the mayor and the city council that people will not consider Bountiful a suburb of Salt Lake," he says. "They really want to take pride in their own artistic achievements."
The future of which will almost certainly depend on the response to this one.
Admission to the Feb. 3-4 concerts is $4 for adults, $2 for students and seniors, and will be available at the door.