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Mayan mythology, Schubert and Elgar

The premiere of a new work by Mark Jacobs, "Las Ranas de Katanchel" ("The Frogs of Katanchel"), will be performed during the Rogue Valley Symphony's upcoming shows this weekend.

The concert series also will include two symphonic works: Schubert's Fourth Symphony and Elgar's "Enigma Variations."

Shows are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, at the Music Recital Hall on the Southern Oregon University campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland; at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, at the Performing Arts Center, 830 N.E. Ninth St., Grants Pass.

Jacobs is the principal trombonist in the Rogue Valley Symphony, a performer for many other musical organizations around the region and an instructor of low brass and composition at SOU.

Jacobs' "Las Ranas de Katanchel" is rooted in Mayan mythology and includes the sounds of frogs, birds, bugs and thunderstorms that he recorded on a trip to Mexico. In the composition, he finds inspiration from the Yucatec goddess of midwifery and medicine, the Mayan calendar and the story of the hero twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque as they journey through the underworld of Xibalba.

Jacobs began composing music at age 11. He earned a doctorate in music composition from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He has composed for a wide range of ensembles and media, including computer and electronic music.

Jacobs will present a free lecture about his new work at 1 p.m. Friday in the Music Recital Hall at SOU. RVS Music Director Martin Majkut will also be on hand at the lecture.

Schubert's Fourth Symphony will carry forward a musical chain of thought that began with RVS's first concert series of the 2010-2011 season, when it performed Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. When Schubert composed the piece, he was a teenager emulating Beethoven's symphony, which had been written eight years earlier.

Schubert brought his own lyrical gift to the patterns of repeated notes that were treated with such intensity in Beethoven's famous opening passage. Even though Schubert subtitled his symphony "Tragic," its themes are graceful and enchanting.

Elgar's "Enigma Variations" of 1899 is considered the first large orchestral work of importance by an English composer. It is a collection of musical portraits of his friends.

Tickets cost $33 and $40 for the Ashland show; $26 and $33 for the Medford show; and $23 and $30 for the Grants Pass show. All student tickets cost $5. There will be a limited number of $10 economy seats for the Medford and Grants Pass shows.

For more information, see www.rvsymphony.org or call 541-552-6398.

Trombonist Mark Jacobs’ new work “Las Ranas de Katanchel” is rooted in Mayan mythology. - Photo courtesy of the Rogue Vall