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The Rogue Valley Symphony

Martin Majkut, one of five conductors competing for the artistic helm of the Rogue Valley Symphony, will conduct the orchestra's second concert series of the season beginning Friday, Nov. 6. The program will feature Mozart's Symphony No- 20 in D, K. 133, Heitor Villa-Lobos' "Fantasia for Soprano Saxophone," Ricardo Lorenz's "Pataruco: Concerto for Venezuelan Maracas and Orchestra" and Beethoven's Symphony No 7 in A Major, Op. 92.

Majkut is the second conductor to audition for the RVSO job this season by conducting a series of three concerts.

"I jumped right into rehearsals," he says. "We had two on Saturday."

Concerts will be at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, at the Music Recital Hall on the Southern Oregon University campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford, and at 3 p.m. Sunday at the High School Performing Arts Center, 830 N.E. Ninth St., Grants Pass.

The 34-year-old Majkut divides his time between Tucson, Ariz., and his native Bratislava, Slovakia. He has been conductor of the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Slovak Sinfonietta and the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra.

The program will begin with the Symphony No. 20 in D, K.133, written in Salzburg in 1772, when Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was just 16. Known as a rich and ambitious work, the symphony is also noted for extravagant scoring, which features two trumpets in addition to the standard oboes, horns and strings.

"It's very lively," Majkut says.

The second piece of the concert is Villa-Lobos' Fantasia for Soprano Saxophone, featuring guest saxophonist Rhett Bender. The prolific Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos wrote the piece in 1948. It is one of many he composed that fuses elements of South American and European folk, classical and popular music.

"It's quite unique," Majkut says. "He got very little formal education and didn't want more. He thought it would pollute his musical language or something. It worked for him."

Bender, a professor of music at SOU and an active soloist here and elsewhere, will perform the saxophone solo part.

Terry Longshore, chairman of the SOU Music Department, will be the guest artist for the third musical work of the program, Ricardo Lorenz's Pataruco: Concerto for Venezuelan Maracas and Orchestra. Written in 1999, the unusual piece features maracas in a nod to the intricate, multi-rhythmic musical techniques of the street performers of the Venezuelan and Colombian flatlands.

Majkut says that although unusual, it's musically solid and not just a novelty.

The final work on the Symphony's program is Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92. Composed in 1812, it is perhaps the most romantic and happiest of Beethoven's symphonies. While Beethoven left few clues as to its meaning, scholars have established from the composer's letters that he regarded it as one of his best works.

The symphony will present Majkut at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, in the SOU Music Recital Hall, in a discussion of his life as a conductor and of the music of the upcoming concert. Parking is available in the large lot west of the music building on Mountain Avenue.

Majkut will give a pre-concert talk an hour before each performance.

Tickets for the concerts cost $33 and $40 for the Ashland performance; $26 and $33 for the Medford performance; and $23 and $30 for the Grants Pass performance. Some $10 seats are available for the Medford and Grants Pass shows. Student tickets are $5 at each show. Tickets are available at the box office in the SOU Music Building.

Call 552-6398 or visit www.rvsymphony.org.

The second piece of Rogue Valley Symphony's concert will be Villa-Lobos' Fantasia for Soprano Saxophone, featuring guest saxophonist Rhett Bender. - Photo courtesy of RVSO