February 02, 2009

Orchestra to celebrate Lincoln, Darwin, Haydn

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra is doing its part to celebrate the bicentennial anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday -- and of course it will do so with music.

SISO presents “Lincoln’s 200th: A Patriotic Program of American-inspired Music,” beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 at Shryock Auditorium.

Professor Edward Benyas, SISO conducter, noted that the musical event also commemorates the birth of Charles Darwin and honors the death of Joseph Haydn.

The concert, featuring American-inspired music, includes Aaron Copland’s “Hoe-Down,” the “Song of the Liberty Bell,” written by Mark O’Connor, and a specially commissioned piece by composer Jim Stephenson. Benyas described the Stephenson piece as one telling the story of the three men “through the eyes of the important women in their lives.”

The second half of the concert is Antonín Dvorak’s “New World” symphony.

Featured soloists include the School of Music’s own Eric Lenz on cello and graduate vocal student Andrea Gedrasik. Special guests include the Alton High School String Orchestra.

The event is more than just the evening concert, though.

The celebration begins with a pre-concert dinner at 5:30 p.m. in the Student Center ballrooms. The dinner includes educational presentations from faculty in the College of Liberal Arts, a musical excerpt from Haydn’s oratorio, “The Creation,” including vocal soloists and piano. The dinner is a fundraiser for the orchestra. Tickets are $100. For reservations, call 618/453-4563.

A special Klassics for Kids program is set for 10 a.m. on Feb. 13 in Altgeld Hall featuring highlights of the evening performance. The free program is specially designed for children from newborns through about pre-school age. For more information or to inquire about bringing a large group, contact Klassics for Kids coordinator Kara Benyas at 618/453-5834 or kbenyas@siu.edu.

Tickets for the evening concert are $20 for general admission, $6 for students of any age. Tickets are available at the door, or reserve tickets at the SIU Arena ticket sales office or the Shryock Auditorium box office.