Hays Symphony will present “Voyage en France” in joint concert

Opera music

Press release

The Hays Symphony will present “Voyage to France,” a joint spring concert with the FHSU Choirs and the Smoky Hill Chorale at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 1 at the FHSU Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.

The concert presents pivotal works by two Frenchmen: Gloriaby Francis Poulenc with soprano soloist, Dr Ivalah Allen is conducted by Dr Terry Crull, and Fantastic Symphonyby Hector Berlioz, is directed by Dr Brian Buckstead.

Gloria was written four years before Poulenc’s death and has been described by some as “bordering on sacrilege”. In response Poulenc would have replied, “While writing it, I had in mind those Crozzoli frescoes with angels sticking out their tongues, and also solemn-looking Benedictine monks that I saw playing football one day.” A music critic of his time described Poulenc’s personality as “something monkish and something naughty”. The work is divided into six short movements and the text of the Gloria is in Roman Catholic Mass Latin. Gloria for soprano soloist, choir and orchestra was an immediate success and remains popular to this day,

Dr. Terry Crull, leader Gloria, is Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Fort Hays State University. His duties include conducting Fort Hays Singers, Concert Choir, Women’s Chorale, Men’s Glee Club and Smoky Hill Chorale.

Soprano soloist Dr. Ivalah Allen, associate professor of voice at FHSU, is a clinician, voice and classroom instructor, conductor, and director of opera and musical theater. Dr. Allen has performed as a soloist on the opera, recital, symphony orchestra, and oratorio stages throughout the Midwest.

Fantastic Symphony is a five-movement portrait of romantic obsession, featuring a witches’ sabbath, a guillotine and wild hallucinations. The work is considered an autobiographical expression of Berlioz’s unrequited love for English actress Harriet Smithson. A central figure in the romantic movement, Berlioz creates almost nightmarish sounds that transport the listener to deep emotions. The composition challenges the orchestra members by asking the musicians to play outside of their normal range. BerliozFantastic Symphony premiered at the Paris Conservatory on December 5, 1830, nearly two hundred years ago; remains a popular work often programmed by American symphony orchestras.

Dr. Brian Buckstead is assistant professor of violin and viola at Fort Hays State University, as well as director of the Hays Symphony. He leads a flourishing career as a violinist, violist and conductor. Brian is passionate about educating young musicians. In addition to judging local and national music competitions, he co-developed Bring Back the Music, an initiative to bring string instrument instruction to two underprivileged public schools in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

This free concert and post-concert reception was made possible by a generous donation from Auto World (Kay and Dick Werth).

All Hays Symphony concerts are free and open to the public. Participants are encouraged to reserve their tickets in advance on the symphony orchestra’s website. Tickets can also be picked up in advance at the Hays Convention Visitors Bureau and the Downtown Hays Development Corporation, or at the Symphony Table in the lobby 30 minutes before the show.

Cover image courtesy of Pixabay