CONWAY — The community is invited to a night of cultural diversity on Saturday when the Conway Symphony Orchestra presents Czech composer Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World,” and selections from Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi’s opera La Traviata. There will also be special activities before the concert as part of the symphony’s School Night program.
The first part of the concert, which will begin at 7:30 in the Donald W. Reynolds Performance Hall at the University of Central Arkansas, will feature the prelude to La Traviata, conducted by Isaac Terceros of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Terceros is a first-year graduate student working on his Master of Music degree in conducting at UCA.
Israel Getzov, CSO musical director and conductor, will conduct an aria from La Traviata, “Ah fors’ e lui,” which will feature soprano JoyLyn Rushing of Birmingham, Alabama. Rushing is working on her Master of Music degree in vocal performance at UCA and is the winner of the music department’s student concerto competition.
“We enjoy performing with voices,” Getzov said. “The orchestra plays more of a collaborative role when we have guest vocalists. JoyLyn has a wonderful voice. We are delighted to be able to show her off.”
Rushing, 24, said she is “excited” to sing this aria.
“It’s a good role for me,” she said. “I am able to relate to the character.”
Rushing said that after receiving her Bachelor of Music degree from Samford University in Birmingham in 2016, she was encouraged to attend UCA and study under Robert Holden, professor of voice and opera and co-director of the UCA Opera Theatre.
“This is a very difficult career to pursue,” Rushing said. “I had to take a little time to consider if it was what I really wanted to do. I moved to Conway in the fall of 2017 and worked for a year to be able to pay for school. I started a cleaning business and now have two employees. I started working on my degree in the fall of 2018 and am scheduled to graduate in December.
“I am not sure what will happen then,” she said. “I will have a lot of options.”
Rushing has performed with the UCA Opera Theatre, Opera in the Ozarks, Opera in the Rock, Operafestival di Roma, Opera Birmingham, the Samford Opera and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.
To conclude the concert, Getzov will conduct the orchestra in Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, which was written while the composer was living in New York in 1893.
Getzov said activities planned as part of the School Night program relate to Dvorak’s piece, known informally as “From the New World.” The overall theme of the pre-concert activities is “What does it mean to be an American?”
Getzov said this concert is in celebration of the 125th anniversary of Dvorak’s symphony, which is said to feature characteristics of African-American and Native American music.
“Looking at American music then and now, we may conclude that it has been influenced by various cultures,” Getzov said. “American music is a melting pot of cultures and flavors. … Dvorak was right in recognizing that.”
The School Night program will take place from 6:30-7:30 in the Reynolds’ lobby in collaboration with the UCA College of Liberal Arts and the Faulkner County Museum.
Associate history professors Hillary Anderson and Kristen Epps will set up interactive learning stations in the downstairs lobby, and their colleague Michael Rosenow will present a lecture at 6:45 in the upstairs lobby.
Lynita Langley-Ware, director of the Faulkner County Museum, will set up a display of artifacts from the American pioneer time period.
The winners of a student art contest and essay contest will also be recognized during the performance. Students in grades five through 12 are invited to submit an essay (maximum 500 words) or artwork (no larger than 9-by-12 inches) inspired by the “New World” symphony and in conjunction with the theme, “What does it mean to be American?” Submissions may be dropped off at the box office of Reynolds Performance Hall, 223 Beatrice Powell St., or mailed to the Conway Symphony Orchestra at P.O. Box 1307, Conway, AR 72033, before Tuesday. The winners will receive cash prizes.
For this concert only, tickets are free for any student involved in a music program. That includes band, orchestra, choir, private lessons, church handbells or any activity that involves learning or performing music. To take advantage of this offer, ticket purchasers can tell the box office by phone or in person that they have a student musician.
Tickets are $5 for children and students of any age with valid ID, and $20, $30 or $38 for adults, with a special group rate of $15 for 10 or more. Contact the Reynolds box office at (501) 450-3265, or visit www.ConwaySymphony.org for adult tickets only.
The concert is underwritten by School Night co-sponsors Netherton Promotions Inc., Conner and Sartain, and Nabholz Construction, with hospitality support from Arvest Bank.