Wesleyan University Orchestra to present Appalachian Trail-inspired concert Saturday

MIDDLETOWN — The Wesleyan University Orchestra, directed by Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music Nadya Potemkina, will perform the world premiere of the first three movements of “An Appalachian Trail Symphony: New England” by composer Keane Southard on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. The concert will be held in Crowell Concert Hall, located at 50 Wyllys Avenue on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown.

The concert will also include Camille Saint-Saëns “Danse Macabre” featuring violinist Winona Murphy ’20, a selection from Antonin Dvořák’s “Biblical Songs,” Op. 99 featuring Wesleyan Private Lessons Teacher and baritone Chai-lun Yueh, and Hector Berlioz’s “March to the Scaffold,” the fourth movement from his “Symphonie fantastique.” There is no admission fee and the public is welcome.

“An Appalachian Trail Symphony: New England” was co-commissioned by the Wesleyan University Orchestra and a consortium of other New England orchestras, including the Claflin Hill Symphony in Milford, Massachusetts; the Wellesley Symphony in Wellesley, Massachusetts; and the Sage City Symphony in Bennington, Vermont. The work was inspired by Mr. Southard’s hike of the New England portion of the Appalachian Trail in 2016. More than 700 miles of the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail pass through a total of five New England states, including 51 miles in Connecticut. The work is a musical celebration of the trail on the 80th anniversary of its completion in 1937. The symphony follows Mr. Southard’s journey from Connecticut to the end of the trail at Mt. Katahdin in Maine, with one movement for each state. The first three movements are “Connecticut,” “Massachusetts,” and “Vermont.”

“This project has been several years in the making,” said Southard, who grew up in central Massachusetts, and now lives in New Hampshire. “I am so excited to finally hear the work performed. The audience will hear some things from the trail depicted literally, like the songs of birds and the peaks of the highest mountains, but I also tried to depict what it actually felt like to be on this physical, emotional, and spiritual journey hiking the trail with its many ups and downs, literally and figuratively. My hope is that the symphony captures some of the beauty of the trail and the wilderness of our region, while inspiring people to both enjoy and protect it.”

Southard has been the recipient of many awards for his compositions, most recently the 2016 Colorado State Music Teachers Association Commissioned Composer Award, and third prize in the Belvedere Festival Composition Contest. In 2013, he was a Fulbright Scholar studying Music Education in Brazil; and received his Masters degree in Composition from the University of Colorado-Boulder. For more information about Keane Southard, please visit http://keanesouthard.instantencore.com.

For more information about the Wesleyan University Music Department, please visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/music.