The Colorado State University Symphony Orchestra and combined choirs will perform British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 1, the monumental Sea Symphony, in an event to honor the memory of CSU friend Bea Griffin. The concert, entitled “Behold the Sea,” takes place on Friday, May 1, and Saturday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Edna Rizley Griffin Concert Hall at the University Center for the Arts, located at 1400 Remington St.
Vaughan Williams wrote Sea Symphony, his first and longest piece for orchestra and choir, between 1903 and 1909 at the young age of 30. Considered ground-breaking for its extensive use of the choir throughout the piece, the symphony created the framework for choral and symphonic music in Britain during the first part of the 20th century. The text of the piece comes from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, one of the composer’s favorites.
CSU’s performance features the University Symphony Orchestra; combined choirs of Chamber Choir, Men’s Chorus, Women’s Choruses, Concert Choir, and University Chorus; along with the talents of CSU faculty members: soprano Tiffany Blake and baritone John Seesholtz, under the direction of Wes Kenney.
“There is a constant thick texture in orchestration, use of short motives, and a strong emphasis on text,” said Seesholtz. “Listeners should try to enjoy this music from a macro-scale perspective – Williams takes you on a long journey that doesn’t let you fully relax until the very end.”
About Bea Griffin
As vice president and member of the board of directors of the Griffin Foundation, Griffin played an integral role in the existence of the Edna Rizley Griffin Concert Hall at CSU’s University Center for the Arts. The Griffin Foundation’s generosity has overflowed into other areas of campus as well, including a recent gift to the University Art Museum expansion. Griffin was also most fond of the Griffin Scholars Program, which has supported many CSU students in realizing their dream to receive a university degree. Needless to say, the arts have thrived in Northern Colorado because of Bea Griffin and the Griffin Foundation.
Bea’s enthusiasm for her philanthropy was contagious, and everyone at Colorado State University who had the pleasure of working with her immediately recognized the passion she had for her work and for life. Bea passed away in December 2014. For her dedication to the university and to the arts, the College of Liberal Arts at Colorado State dedicates this concert in her memory.
About Tiffany Blake
Praised by Opera News Online for her “truly virtuoso performance, immaculate tone, good support and breath to spare,” soprano Tiffany Blake received her D.M.A. in Vocal Performance, with a minor in Opera Stage Direction, from the Eastman School of Music, where she also earned her M.M. and was awarded the prestigious Performer’s Certificate.
About John Seesholtz
John Seesholtz, full-lyric baritone, was awarded the Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2001. He then went on to obtain a Master’s of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Michigan in 2003 and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance with a secondary emphasis in Vocal Pedagogy from the University of North Texas in 2009, which included 12 hours of master’s level speech pathology.
About Wes Kenney
Wes Kenney is now in his 11th year as music professor and director of orchestras at CSU. He conducts the CSU Symphony and Chamber Orchestra, as well as CSU Opera productions; and teaches graduate conducting. Kenney has led the orchestra to many new milestones, including first-ever CSU performances of Mahler symphonies No. 1 and 5, two Strauss tone poems, and the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra. In 2013 he was named music director of the Denver Young Artists Orchestra, the premiere youth orchestra in Colorado, and took that orchestra on a European tour in 2014.
Tickets are $7 for CSU students, $1 for youth (under 18), and $12 for the public. Tickets are available at the University Center for the Arts (UCA) ticket office in the UCA lobby Monday through Friday, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. and 60 minutes prior to performances, by phone at 970-491-ARTS (2787), or online. Youth tickets must be purchased in person at the Ticket Office. All tickets are subject to a $1 ticket fee for both online and at-the-door purchases. Advance ticket purchase is highly recommended to avoid lines and further at-the-door fees.
For an in-depth look behind the scenes of everything happening at the University Center for the Arts, sign up for free for the new Green Room digital magazine.
This article was written by Spencer Gillard.