Fort Collins Symphony presents season 69 of Odyssey: Sound Travels

Lyra Wiley

Hsing-ay Hsu (right) shaking Wes Kenney’s hand (left) after a performance. Shot by Lyra Wiley.

Wes Kenney has been a music conductor for close to 50 years. Through his conductor position, he has had opportunities to perform all around the world in places like China, the Czech Republic and France. These trips have taught him how cultural differences can affect how Western music is perceived.

Now in continuation with his position as a music professor at Colorado State University, he directed a Masterworks 3 concert, “London to Leningrad” Saturday, Feb. 2.

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The program, which was held at the Lincoln Center, combined strings and wind instruments to play music from George Frideric Handel, Igor Stravinsky and Dmitri Shostakovich.

“The music explains itself quite clearly, and I encourage people to research the music that they love because these master composers spent a lifetime learning and researching and experimenting.” -Hsing-ay Hsu, professional pianist

“In this concert, we are featuring our winds more. Handel’s ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’ is stately and tuneful and easy for the audience to grasp in its pageantry,” Kenney said. “Stravinsky’s ‘Concerto for Piano and Wind Instrument’ is a rarely played work, but it a workout for everyone. Jazz influences and blatant dissonance are combined with virtuosic pyrotechnics from all involved.”

Norman Gonzales, the principal flute artist, has been performing for the Fort Collins Symphony for six seasons.

“Performing is such a rush,” Gonzales said. “You only have one shot to execute the notes you have to play in a given piece. I’m up there doing what I love to do, but at the same time, I’m sharing this great music.”

The first half of the concert also featured guest artist and pianist, Hsing-ay Hsu. She first performed at the age of four and has since played at venues like Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.

“Initially when I played, I just wanted to do a good job,” Hsu said. “Over the years, however, it became about making a deep emotional connection with people from all walks of life. As an immigrant, it was very difficult to find a social in, but through great music, I found that I could share a great moment with just about anybody.”

Hsu, who played Stravinsky during the second part of the program, “Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments,” said that her music might be intimidating for people who are unfamiliar with it. “The music explains itself quite clearly, and I encourage people to research the music that they love because these master composers spent a lifetime learning and researching and experimenting,” Hsu said.

For resident Jordana Barrack, the Masterworks concert was her first time seeing the Fort Collins Symphony. After waiting months, she was finally able to see her friends, Forest Greenough and Bennett Stucky perform bass and violin respectively.

“It was a really interesting experience,” Barrack said. “The music puts you in this trance, this state, where your mind begins to wander a little bit. You wander between listening to the specific notes that are happening to your to-do list or your thoughts for the day.”

More information about the Fort Collins Symphony and their events can be found on their concert page.

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Lyra Wiley can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @lyra_wiley.