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ProMusica celebrates state’s centennial

STAFF REPORT~ 1/1/2012

The Arizona Centennial Foundation has recognized the PMAZ Celebrating Arizona's Centennial concert as an official event in recognition of 100 years of statehood. 
The celebration will include a 7:30 p.m. show on Feb. 11 and a 4 p.m. show on Feb. 12 at Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center, located at 33606 N. 60th St. in Scottsdale.
ProMusica Arizona will be part of a full calendar of events taking place around the state commemorating Arizona’s rich history, culture, and natural wonders. The PMAZ concert will feature music that celebrates the diversity of Arizona's history since becoming a state on Feb. 14, 1912.  It will include the performance of two pieces newly-commissioned by The Arizona Commission for the Arts as part of the Centennial Legacy Project.
The orchestral piece is called "Arizona Centennial Overture," composed by Sy Brandon, a resident of Cottonwood, Arizona. The overture pays tribute to the unique blend of the various cultures that had a part in shaping Arizona’s history. Beginning with a fanfare that announces the celebration, the piece fades into a rustic theme that pays tribute to the pioneers that migrated to Arizona. The second section pays tribute to the various Native American cultures that are a large part of Arizona’s history and its present way of life. The solo flute and percussion instruments which open the section reflect the Native American respect for nature, and as more instruments join in, the piece evolves into a ceremonial dance that increases in intensity. The third section is influenced by Mariachi music, recognizing the strong Hispanic influence in Arizona. A common Hispanic rhythmic grouping of three groups of two alternating with two groups of three characterizes this section. A brief ending using all the themes of the piece brings the work to a rousing, unifying close.
The Arizona Commission on the Arts piece written for chorale and piano is titled "Turquoise and Thunderstorms."  The music was written by Dr. James DeMars, and the ethereal text is by Alberto Rios.  The music uses 20th century sonorities and text painting to express the natural wonders of Arizona. The chorale will also perform several works that celebrate Arizona cowboys and the great American west.
The audience will be treated to "Sinfonia India" by Carlos Chavez. It is a single movement work featuring rhythms, sounds, scales, and percussion that is derived from the Yaqui Indians of northern Mexico, many of whom settled in the Sonoran desert of Arizona. Carlos Chavez is a 20th century Mexican composer, educator, and conductor who founded the Mexican Symphonic Orchestra.  He composed "Sinfonia India," or 2nd Symphony, in 1935.  The piece is based on the mestizo music of Chavez’s youth, and captures the rhythmic complexity of a fast paced dance, and blends a short haunting middle section that reflects on the tranquility of the desert night.
Finally, the triumphant brass, soaring vocal lines, and an undeniably uplifting and timeless message of Randall Thompson's "The Testament of Freedom" composed in 1943 has made this one of the most popular works of American nationalistic music, and a huge success with audiences since its debut.  It was written to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Thomas Jefferson.  The text for each of the four movements is taken from writings by Thomas Jefferson.  The piece was originally scored for male voices and piano.  It was written for the Virginia Glee Club, a male ensemble at the University of Virginia.  Later the composer arranged the version PMAZ will perform, which uses SATB chorus and orchestra.
Tickets can be purchased at pmaz.org/buy-tickets or by calling 623-465-4650.  For information on the show go to promusicaaz.org. Tickets are also available at Andrew Z Jewelry and the Deer Valley Credit Union in Anthem.
Cost is $15 for adults, $12.50 for seniors 60 and older and $5 for students under 18.