Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra celebrates National Parks

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The Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra opens the season with a special National Parks Commemoration Concert this Sunday, Oct. 2 at 4 p.m. in the Charles W. Davis Concert Hall with a pre-concert lecture at 3 p.m. This concert is a collaboration between the Fairbanks Symphony and the National Parks, in celebration of the Parks centennial. It will feature two pieces by contemporary composer Stephen Lias, written about two of Alaska’s beloved parks. The concert will begin with “Denali” and “Gates of the Arctic.” After intermission the symphony will then take us south to the lower 48 and will play the famous Grand Canyon Suite by Ferde Grofé.

Sunday’s concert will be presented as a multimedia concert and Denali, Gates of the Arctic and Grand Canyon Suites will be accompanied by both still and moving images from the different parks. Lias’s pieces were written with this presentation in mind. The images change with the melody and beat of the music.

Lias is a self proclaimed adventurer-composer and outdoor enthusiast according to his website. He resides in Nacogdoches, TX, where he works as the professor of composition at Austin State University. He is no stranger to Alaska and was a guest of the Denali Arts and Humanities Alliance in the summer of 2011 where he spent a week in the Denali National Park.

“The events and emotions of my time in Denali are given sound and form in this celebratory piece as it moves through exuberance, grace, danger and grandeur,” Lias said.

In the summer of 2012, Lias returned to Alaska as the Artist-in-Residence at Gates of the Arctic National Park. He spent 10 days backpacking with park ranger, Zak Richter. Lias then composed “Gates of the Arctic,” a 14 minute piece recounting his adventure in the Brooks Range.

The piece made its premiere in September 2014 by the Boulder Philharmonic under the direction of Michael Butterman.

“Gates of the Arctic is thoroughly entertaining, especially with the photographic accompaniment,” Peter Alexander, Boulder music critic said. “But it is also a well crafted and skillfully designed piece that features strong contrasts and great musical drama, woven into an effective orchestral score.”

Lias will be the guest speaker at the pre-concert lecture, as well as operating the slideshows of images to accompany the pieces that he has assembled. Lias and representatives from the National Park Services will also be available after the concert to interact with patrons.

“This is not a eye-browed, serious concert,” symphony Conductor Eduard Zilberkant said. “There is really a hollywood appeal, you will hear the music more like a soundtrack to a movie more than a classical piece.”

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.fairbankssymphony.org.

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