Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra 200th Anniversary of Mendelssohn

  • Oct 17, 2009 12:00 AM
  • Rozsa Center

Dr. Joel Neves will conduct his first concert as Music Director of the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, October 17, at 7:30 pm, in the Rozsa Center, with a welcoming reception to follow in the Rozsa Lobby. The concert honors Felix Mendelssohn’s 200th birthday with his magical “Suite for A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” plus music of Liszt and Stravinsky. Portage Health is the sponsor for this first concert of the KSO’s 2009-10 season.

Joel Neves comes to Michigan Tech from Utah, where he conducted the Orchestra of Southern Utah and Cedar High Orchestra. He earned a doctorate in orchestral conducting from Arizona State University, and his B.A. and M.M degrees from Brigham Young University. As Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Orchestras at Michigan Tech, he will teach music theory and history in addition to his conducting duties.

“We’re excited to have such a dynamic teacher and musician join us,” says Roger Held, chair of Visual and Performing Arts. “Joel has impressed everyone with his energy and enthusiasm, and of course his outstanding musicianship. We expect great things from the KSO this year, and look forward to expanding the orchestra’s repertoire to take advantage of Joel’s special interests in opera and musical theatre, too.”

Neves, the KSO’s seventh conductor, inherits an accomplished university-community orchestra and an audience who have regarded the KSO as a community treasure for nearly 40 years. The orchestra’s prior conductors—Grover Wilkins III, John Clark, Michael Griffith, Jeffrey Bell-Hanson, Alton Thompson, and Milton Olsson—molded a group of 60-70 musicians (accomplished Michigan Tech students along with musicians from a wide area of the western U.P.) into an ensemble known widely for its excellence, and brought nationally-recognized soloists to play with them.

Neves says the orchestra’s strong support from the community, and from community-minded corporations such as Portage Health, were key factors in his accepting the position here. He hopes the four Rozsa concerts this year will attract newcomers who would like to see what the KSO’s concerts are like, and please old friends at the same time.

In addition to the October 17 “Mendelssohn” celebration, the KSO joins the Michigan Tech Concert Choir to present Handel’s “Messiah” on December 5, sponsored by Copper Range Abstract & Title Agency, then presents “A Night at the Opera” on February 20, and a multi-media tribute to Leonard Bernstein, “The Bernstein Beat,” on April 17, narrated by the composer’s daughter Jamie, co-sponsored by MTU’s Rozsa Mosaics Series.