Classical Weekend

Young Talent, Old Music.

By Margaret Regan

YOUNG PEOPLE, A twentysomething virtuoso pianist and dozens of teensomething singers, will dominate classical music halls this week.

The Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus has been in business almost 60 years, taking young singers to warble all over the world, but as far as anyone can remember they've performed only once with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

Review This week, not only is the renowned chorus singing with the TSO hometown players, the orchestra has commissioned a brand-new piece for them. Stephen Paulus, a Minneapolis composer who's serving a short composer-in-residence term with the orchestra, penned for the occasion a song cycle called "Songs of Meditation."

Paulus, a widely recorded composer whose works have been played by the likes of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, paid a visit to the young singers last spring.

"I left inspired not only by their musicianship but by their discipline, energy, enthusiasm and professional attitude," Paulus said in a prepared statement. "This work takes advantage of the strong and vibrant unison sound which the boys can muster."

His new work is divided into six sections, each one based on poems written by women who lived in the 11th to 14th centuries. Natives of India, Germany and Japan, the poets all wrote sacred texts, from which Paulus has drawn images of "nature, the moon, oneness and self-knowledge."

Over at the Boys Chorus offices, spokeswoman Julie Garlow said only the group's top singers, the "touring chorus" that travels around the world, will do the honors with the symphony. Thirty-seven voices strong, the boys range in age from 11 to 15. They'll perform the piece in English.

Also on the program, conducted by George Hanson, are two instrumental works: Johannes Brahms's 1873 Variations on a Theme by Haydn, a standard of the repertory, and the less widely performed Iberia, a circa 1907 work by Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz who died in 1909.

The concerts are at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, November 19 and 20, at the TCC Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave. Tickets for adults are $30, $24, $16.75 and $10.75. Tickets for children and students with ID are $22, $16.75, $11.75 and $5.50. Student rush tickets are available one-half hour before the show for $5; ID required. For more information call the TSO box office at 882-8585.

TWENTY-EIGHT year-old pianist Fazil Say of Turkey this Sunday kicks off the Piano and Friends series of the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music.

Say comes to the desert recommended by a string of prizes, including first place in the European Young Concert Artists competition in Leipzig in 1994 and the Young Concert Artists International Competition in 1995. Say is also a composer: In 1996, at the ripe old age of 26, he heard his Piano Concerto No. 2, The Silk Road, premiered by the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra.

At his Sunday afternoon concert, Say will play another of his own works, a sonata commissioned by the Friends. Also on the program are a couple of classics: Mozart's Sonata in B-Flat Major, K. 33, and a Bach and Liszt Organ Prelude and Fugue in A Minor. In keeping with the Friends' goal of promoting less familiar music, Say will also play Leos Janácek's Sonata October 1, 1905 for Piano, and Alban Berg's Sonata in B Minor, Op. 1.

Piano and Friends enters its fourth season with this concert, which will be followed by pianist Rohan De Silva and violinist Yayoi Toda in January, and pianist Pei-Yao Wang and cellist Sophie Shao in March. Showcasing rising young stars, the informal afternoon series is designed to lure young people into the concert hall.

Say performs at 3 p.m. Sunday, November 22, in the TCC Leo Rich Theatre, 260 S. Church Ave. Tickets are $10 for adults, $4 for students with ID. For more information call 577-3769. TW

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