The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra’s 2018-19 offerings have ranged from a focus on “Star Wars” film score composer John Williams to classical Mozart. In its second-to-last concert of the season, Saturday, March 9, FSO pays tribute to the armed forces — and highlights young, local musicians.
“FSO, March!” features stirring military music spanning a range of time periods and contexts.
The concert includes works by John Philip Sousa and Gustav Holst. Both composers wrote rich military marches for the U.S. and Great Britain, respectively. Sousa is perhaps best known for composing “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
According to FSO Music Nerd Joshua Busman, the concert also features songs written about specific combat experiences.
“Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture’ celebrates the Russian defeat of Napoleon’s invading forces during the bitter winter months of 1812,” Busman said. “And Irving Berlin’s ‘God Bless America’ was conceived as a hymn to honor those serving in the First World War. (It was) written while Berlin himself was serving in the Army at Camp Upton.”
Audience members will also hear music written for the Revolutionary War film “The Patriot,” for the Vietnam War film “Platoon” and for the World War II video game franchise Medal of Honor.
Every year, FSO highlights the next generation of musicians in our community with a “side-byside” concert. This year, “FSO, March!” is that concert. The Fayetteville Symphony Youth Orchestra gets to play onstage, side-by-side, with the FSO. This group, led by FSO trumpetist Dr. Larry Wells, is comprised of local musicians ages 13 to 20.
“There is no better classroom than the stage ... surrounded by lots of teachers,” Wells said. “Students ... can learn from all musicians — not just those on their specific instruments.
“Case in point: probably my most impactful lesson I ever received came from a violinist who taught me about phrasing and how bowings affect the music. While I’m a trumpet player, this one lesson made me a much more aware musician.”
FSO President and CEO Chris Kastner said “FSO, March!” was an obvious choice for the side-by-side due to the iconic music it features. She said standards like “God Bless America” and other songs in the concert are essential for any musician’s repertoire.
Wells agreed. “These are pieces that young musicians need to learn, not only because they are relevant to this concert, but also because they might literally play them 500 times in their career,” he said.
The performance will also highlight the winner of FSO’s 2018-19 Harlan Duenow Young Artist Concerto Competition. The competition, named in honor of FSO’s longest-serving conductor, is open to statewide competition from musicians ages 12- 21. This year was specifically open to pianists and string players.
The 2018-19 winner, 19-year-old pianist Morgan Hunkele, will play the first movement of Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat” during the first half of the concert. Viola player Ludwig Jantzen, who attends high school in Greenville, took second place.
“Morgan is an immensely talented pianist studying at North Carolina School of the Arts,” said FSO Music Director Stefan Sanders. “The FSO is proud to play a part in the development of North Carolina’s young musical talent with (this competition).”
“FSO, March!” takes place Saturday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. in Methodist University’s Huff Concert Hall. Arrive at 6:45 p.m. for a pre-concert talk to learn more about the historical context of the evening’s music. To purchase tickets, which range from about $10-$26, visit www.fayettevillesymphony.org.
Photo: Morgan Hunkele