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Young cellist shakes it up

The Rogue Valley Symphony continues to celebrate its 40th season, performing in three Southern Oregon venues in one weekend. For its next concert, the orchestra will feature conductor Arthur Shaw's son, Camden, performing Dvorak's Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in B minor, Opus 104.

The concerts are scheduled 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, at Southern Oregon University's Music Recital Hall, 1250 Siskiyou Boulevard, Ashland; 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, at the Grants Pass High School Performing Arts Center, 830 N.E. Ninth St., Grants Pass.

The program will open with Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" and also includes Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade Symphonic Suite."

Originally from Ashland, 18-year-old cellist Shaw attends the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he studies with Peter Wiley of the Guarneri String Quartet. Shaw began his studies at age 6 with local cellist Beth Goldstein. He earned The Festival Medal, the highest award given at the Seattle Young Artists Music Festival, three consecutive years beginning at age 14.

He has performed as soloist with the Seattle Philharmonic, the Bellevue Philharmonic, the Federal Way Symphony, and the Philharmonia Northwest. In addition to concerts in Philadelphia with the Curtis Institute Orchestra, Shaw has given numerous chamber music performances and has been invited to perform in the Chamber Music Festival in Rockport, Maine in 2008.

Czecho-slovakian composer Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) completed his Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in 1895 while he was director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York, a position he held until he returned to Prague to remain in his homeland. The concerto has three contrasting movements, displaying power, lyricism and bravura. Dvorak's mentor Johannes Brahms, who never composed a solo cello concerto, praised his friend's work saying, "Why on earth didn't I know that one could write a cello concerto like this? If I had only known, I would have written one long ago!"

Scheherazade, Opus 35, was written by a contemporary of Dvorak, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908). Based on tales from "The Arabian Nights," the symphonic suite in four movements depicts the princess storyteller Scheherazade, the sea and Sinbad's ship, a domineering Sultan, and a festival at Baghdad. The composer began his life as a sailor, joining the Imperial Russian Navy at age 12. After serving as Inspector of Naval Bands, he accepted a position as assistant music director of the Imperial Chapel in St. Petersburg.

"Fanfare for the Common Man" is one of the most recognizable pieces of 20th Century classical music. In 1942, the conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra commissioned American composer Aaron Copland (1900-1990) to write a fanfare intended to foster patriotic spirit. The piece for brass and percussion is one of 18 fanfares that music director Eugene Goossens requested from American and British composers during World Wars I and II, but Copland's work is the only one which remains popular today.

Goossens wrote to Copland, "Its title is as original as its music, and I think it is so telling that it deserves a special occasion for its performance. "¦ We will premiere it March 12, 1943, at income tax time." Copland replied, "I am all for honoring the common man at income tax time."

A pre-concert lecture by Pat Daly will held one hour before each performance. Ashland tickets are $33 and $40, Medford tickets are $26 and $33, Grants Pass tickets are $23 and $30. Student tickets are available at each venue for $5. Seating for all concerts is reserved and tickets may be purchased at the door depending on availability. The Rogue Valley Symphony Box Office, located in the Music Building of Southern Oregon University, is open from 9 a.m. to Noon, Monday through Friday.

See www.rvsymphony.org or call 552-6398.

Camden Shaw will perform Dvorak’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in B minor, Opus 104 with the Rogue Valley Symphony.