Clarinetist Hengjian "Jerry" Su — a senior at South Medford High School and winner of Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon's 2015 Concerto Competition — says it is W.A. Mozart's playfulness that draws him to the composer's work, along with his delicate, subtle phrases and dialogue between soloists and orchestra.
"I admire Mozart's aristocratic and elegant style," Su says in a news release. "As a clarinetist, I feel blessed to have an opportunity to experience one of Mozart's last breaths of brilliance."
Su will be the featured soloist when the Youth Symphony, led by Cynthia Hutton, performs Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A major. Su has studied under music teacher Yoko Kan at SMHS, and privately under Zheng-Li, Frank Kowalsky and Lori Calhoun. He was selected to play in the Oregon All-State Wind Ensemble, won the District Solo and Ensemble Competition and placed first in the 2015 Oregon State Activities Association Solo Music Competition. He plans to attend Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music and pursue a degree in music performance.
YSSO performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 29, in the Music Recital Hall on the Southern Oregon University campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 30, at the Grants Pass Performing Arts Center, 830 N.E. Ninth St.; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 31, at the Craterian Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford.
Tickets cost $10, $5 for students, and can be purchased at Paddington Station in Ashland, Oregon Books in Grants Pass and Larry's Music in Medford. Tickets for the May 30 show can be purchased online at craterian.org or by calling 541-779-3000.
The Youth Symphony also will premiere "Crater Lake Fantasy: Another Sky at Our Feet," newly commissioned from Rogue Valley composer Mark Eliot Jacobs. The new piece is written for symphony orchestra and celebrates the history, geography and natural beauty of Oregon's national park.
Jacobs is a well-known fixture on the Rogue Valley’s music scene. He is principal trombonist in the Rogue Valley Symphony, trombonist in the Rogue Valley Symphony Brass Quintet, and a sackbut and serpent player with the Jefferson Baroque Orchestra. He is the trombonist in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2015 production of the musical “Guys and Dolls.”
He holds a bachelor's of music degree from Western Illinois University and a master's and doctorate from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He divides his time between composing, performing and teaching in Ashland and Medford. As an adjunct professor at Southern Oregon University, he teaches music theory, composition and low brass.
Jacobs has composed music for orchestra, band, musical theater and chamber music. Rogue Valley Symphony premiered his tone poem, "Las Ranas de Katanchel," in 2010. It was recorded by the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra in 2013 for its CD titled "Spellbound," on the Navona Records label. Southern Oregon University’s 2011 production of Bertolt Brecht’s “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” featured his original musical score.
This is the second time Jacobs has been commissioned by YSSO to compose a suite for orchestra. "The Orchard City: Medford, Oregon 1913" premiered in early 2013.
Hutton and the Youth Orchestra also will play Robert W. Smith's "The Great Locomotive Chase" and an arrangement of Tchaikovsky's "Capriccio Italien."
Youth Strings, led by Faina Podolnaya, will play works by Beethoven and Harry Alshin's "Animal Survival Suite."
The concerts will close with Youth Symphony and Youth Orchestra performing a medley of songs from "The Sound of Music."