Nothing to do next weekend? Keep reading. The first weekend in December usually packs a multitude of Fort Lewis College
concerts as well as the odd recital here and a traditional family Christmas there.
Beginning Thursday, there are one or more concerts each night, and it keeps rolling into next week.
Here's a sampler: On Thursday, the Fort Lewis College Percussion Ensemble will give its annual winter concert in the
Concert Hall. If you've never been to one of these rousing affairs, why not this year? Jonathan Latta, the Fort's new
director of percussion studies, said in an interview last week that Contrasts" is a perfect title for the concert.
The ensemble opens with Shock Factor," by Nathan Daughtrey, and Latta promises it will deliver on its title. So if
you want something edgy, not the usual warm fuzzies of the holiday season, start here.
In the center of the program, Latta said, two contemporary works stir up more contrasts: Storm Warning and Dance,"
by Steve Riley sets up an oncoming storm and turns into a wild dance. Suite from Colors," by local composer Marvin
Paioff will paint a wide pallet of colors," Latta said and will be a very different musical experience.
All that plus some easy-on-the-ear marimba transcriptions of a little Bach and Handel lead up to the meat and
potatoes of the evening," Latta said. The Swords of Moda-ling," by Gordon Peters apparently is a big work influenced
by Asian music and incorporating modal scales. To close, Latta and company will summon the highly rhythmical music of
West Africa. Spirited drumming and chanting may lead to spirited dancing. Sounds like a good, if off- beat, way to
celebrate the onset of winter.
On Friday, Marilyn Mangold Garst performs Four Haydn Sonatas, dipping back into an elegant era of classical music. If
this is your cup of 18th-century tea, you owe it to yourself to hear this wizard of the harpsichord celebrate the
200th anniversary of Haydn's demise. This concert is part two of a four-part series held at the Unitarian
Universalist Fellowship of Durango.
After opening in October with a dazzling program of Haydn piano trios featuring violinist Kasia Sokol, cellist Bonnie
Mangold, and Garst, the series continues to honor Haydn-the-great. Garst moved to Durango in 2005 after a 25-year
teaching and performing career at The George Washington University.
As a member of the GWU Faculty Trio, she performed regularly as a chamber musician and also as a soloist. She
specializes in the harpsichord. Friday evening's recital includes two Haydn sonatas from the 1760s on harpsichord
followed by two sonatas from 1789 and 1794 on piano.
Also Friday, the FLC Music Department Holiday Bash brings together a number of college ensembles for a varied
program. Expect to hear familiar and new works surrounding holiday themes. For example, the Chamber Choir will sing
Carol of the Bells" and a version of Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy." They will also present an
arrangement of Deck the Halls" as you've never heard it before. Composed by James McKelvey in the oddest time
signature, 7/6, it sounds almost unsingable.
But the elite choir under the direction of Professor Linda Mack-Berven will no doubt deliver it with crispy speed.
There should be plenty of seats in the Concert Hall, so bring the kids.
Sunday marks the return of A Traditional Family Christmas." Put on by the various groups under the umbrella of the
Durango Choral Society, the family concert is priced right and put on in the afternoon for easy parking and daylight
driving. Linda Mack Berven, who leads the DCS Corporation, promises just what the title suggests.
This will be a family concert of traditional music," she said in an interview last week, something the community
has come to love and anticipate."
You'll hear familiar carols, and now and then you'll be invited to sing along, especially with Jingle Bells."
Mack-Berven has always considered car keys to be musical instruments, so be prepared.
The Durango Children's Chorale will be featured as will the Durango Women's Choir with mezzo-soprano Kelly Zick
soloing on a Ralph Vaughan Williams' Lullaby. Kelly is our Mack scholarship student this year," Mack-Berven said, and we're thrilled that she will be our soloist."
In addition, the FLC Jazz Combo will play three original arrangements by local composer Jack Ballard. And the full
Choral Society will present a variety of works including Hanerot Halelu," a rousing Hanukkah piece with percussion.
The concert will wind down with some energetic audience participation in The 12 Days of Christmas." And the concert
will close with a striking contrast. Soprano Gemma Kavanagh will sing O Holy Night" and the massed singers will end
with a jazzy choral rendition of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town." Guess who the special guest will be?
Finally, on Monday the Durango Youth Symphony returns for one of its twice-yearly concerts under the direction of
Kasia Sokol. This winter she's presenting three different ensembles. The Youth Symphony and FLC senior Amanda
Rosendale will perform Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 3 in E flat major.
A notoriously difficult instrument to play, the French horn is made to look easy when Rosendale plays. She recently
gave a remarkable senior recital, so this honor is overdue. In addition, the full orchestra will play Gabriel Fauré's
Pavane." After that melts your heart, brace yourself for the Fort Lewis Chamber Orchestra's interpretation of the
Bach double concerto arranged for string orchestra. Leroy Anderson's Typewriter" will follow, with a mystery
soloist, and the Violin Virtuosi will close the evening with Sokol's magical string orchestra arrangement of
Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic. Reach her at "mailto:Jud_reyn@yahoo.com">Jud_reyn@yahoo.com.