NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Orchestra of the Pines at Stephen F. Austin State University will present the program “Stories from Afar” when the ensemble performs at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 25, in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.
The program features music by composers Richard Wagner, Franz Liszt and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. A highlight of the program will be a return performance of guest artist Ning An, assistant professor of piano at California State University, Fullerton, visiting artist at Lee University and celebrated concert pianist who has performed in venues worldwide.
“Our music for this concert conveys stories about Greek mythology, Christian piety and the distant Orient, all while spinning the spotlight on outstanding solos by members of the orchestra and our guest pianist, Ning An,” said Dr. Gene H. Moon, director of orchestras for the SFA School of Music.
The orchestra will perform Wagner’s illustrious overture to the opera “Tannhäuser,” whose stories “speak of a knightly minstrel struggling between the temptations of the flesh and spiritual love,” Moon explained. Graduate student Jeff Leung from Hong Kong will guest conduct.
An will join the orchestra in its performance of Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major.
“An’s last engagement with the SFA orchestra was six years ago in 2010 when he performed Sergei Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto,” Moon said. “It was an evening that has remained memorable for all those who attended and shared the stage with the artist.”
The program concludes with the “sensational storytelling” of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade,” Op. 35, Moon said.
“‘Scheherazade’ is one of the greatest orchestral works penned and continues to be widely programmed work,” he said. “It is a great undertaking for this orchestra. The last time the Orchestra of the Pines performed ‘Scheherazade,’ the orchestra’s personnel consisted of roughly 20 music students complemented with SFA music faculty and professional musicians from Dallas and Houston. Ten years later, we bring it back but with an orchestra whose personnel consists of all music students studying at SFA. We even have a few alumni returning to join in the festivities. It is really a hallmark moment in the orchestra’s history.”