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September 6, 2011 > Fremont Symphony set to open 48th season

Fremont Symphony set to open 48th season

By Caryl Dockter

The 48th season of the Fremont Symphony will open September 24 with "From the New World," featuring Antonin Dvorak's popular "New World" Symphony. Written during the composer's years in the United States, it reflects his impressions of the New World and homesickness for his native Bohemia. The concert will begin with Aaron Copland's deeply patriotic "Lincoln Portrait," narrated by Aldo Billingslea and include a performance of Tchaikovsky's universally appealing Piano Concerto No. 1 with soloist Iris Hsu, winner of the Symphony's 2011 Young Artist Competition.

Billingslea has performed leading roles with ACT, Theatre-Works, Marin Theatre Company, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, to name just a few. An Associate Professor of Theatre Arts at Santa Clara University, he has won several awards including the Bay Area Critics Circle Award. Iris Hsu is currently attending the Juilliard School in New York City where she studies with renowned Finnish pianist Dr. Mattie Raikallio. Hsu has also won several awards, including fourth place in the prestigious Los Angeles International Liszt Competition.

The second concert of the subscription series is a performance by the Lafayette String Quartet on February 25. Artists-in-Residence at the University of Victoria, B.C., the Lafayette String Quartet is celebrating its 25th anniversary season with the same four original members (a rarity in professional ensembles): Ann Elliot-Goldschmid and Sharon Stanis, violins; Joanna Hood, viola; and Pamela Highbaugh Aloni, cello.

This will be the quartet's first visit to Fremont since they played a recital at the home of Frank and Jean Louie several years ago. The quartet has a local connection through the cellist, Pamela Highbaugh Aloni, daughter of Otis and Dorothy Highbaugh. Highbaugh Aloni attended Fremont schools, graduating from Mission San Jose High School.

In college she majored in sports and music; it was several years before she decided to make a career in music. While working toward her master's degree at the University of Indiana, she played in a quartet with the renowned violinist Rostislav Dubinsky along with Sharon Stanis and Joanna Hood. The next year, the three women went to Detroit to apply for positions in a chamber orchestra. During auditions, they met Ann Elliot and asked her to join them to form a quartet. For two years, the four played in the chamber orchestra and worked as a quartet on the side. They finally took the plunge, gave up the regular pay of an orchestra job, and decided to perform solely as a string quartet.

For some time the quartet struggled; each of them took outside jobs to pay the bills. But finally they began to win competitions and with this recognition, opportunities to perform. Eventually they received an offer from the University of Victoria, where they have been Artists-in-Residence ever since. They all enjoy teaching, helping to keep music alive, passing on what they have learned to another generation and the time for their quartet to tour throughout the world.

The Rochester Times-Union reviewer called the Lafayette's performance "The finest string-quartet playing this critic has heard in a long time." Fremont audiences are in for a treat with this exceptional group.

The final concert of the subscription series is 'Hooray for Hollywood!' - the May 12 pops concert - which will include music from such classic films as Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Dr. Zhivago and some of John Williams' biggest hits, from Jaws and Star Wars to Harry Potter. A special highlight will feature the orchestra in tandem with a silent Chaplin film.

On December 3 and 4, the Symphony will again present a favorite holiday classic, Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker," in collaboration with Yoko Young and her talented dancers. The post-matinee party for youngsters, "Magical Moments," will be a little different this year. Featuring the mystifying magic of "Herr Drosselmeyer's apprentice" (magician Alan Leeds), the party will also include a chance to meet and take pictures with the costumed dancers while enjoying lots of holiday treats.

To order tickets for any of these performances, call the Box Office at (510) 371-4859 or visit the Symphony website, www.fremontsymphony.org.

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