Something to Tchaik-out this weekend

Symphony season opens with new tunes, director finalist and youth solo competition winner

Christopher Koch is one of three finalists for the Juneau Symphony’s artistic director opening. He will lead the season-opening program “Passion & Longing.” (Courtesy Photo | Juneau Symphony)

Christopher Koch is one of three finalists for the Juneau Symphony’s artistic director opening. He will lead the season-opening program “Passion & Longing.” (Courtesy Photo | Juneau Symphony)

Juneau Symphony’s upcoming season will offer a glimpse of seasons to come.

This season, three finalists for the symphony’s artistic director position will lead programs in the capital city. Juneau Symphony Executive Director Charlotte Truitt told the Capital City Weekly the new artistic director is expected to be announced in May.

The finalists were selected after a year-long search that included almost 50 applicants, Truitt said.

[Symphony prepares for upcoming showcase and continues director search]

“Each program is a reflection of their style,” Truitt said. “The new artistic director will start next season.”

Concert-goers will have a chance to fill out surveys about the programs, too, Truitt said.

The first finalist to lead a program will be Christopher Koch, who will lead season-opening concerts Saturday and Sunday at the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Auditorium. The theme and title of his program is “Passion & Longing.”

“Everything on the program was selected because it sort of channels a different emotional affect or response,” Koch said in an interview.

The program will feature Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s sixth and final symphony, operatic soprano Jennifer Forni performing Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” and Giacomo Puccini’s “Vissi d’arte” from “Tosca.” Youth solo competition winner 15-year-old Alexander Yu will also join the orchestra for Sarasate’s “Zigeunerweisen.”

Operatic soprano Jennifer Forni will perform Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” and Giacomo Puccini’s “Vissi d’arte” from “Tosca” as part of Juneau Symphony’s season-opening concert. (Courtesy Photo | Juneau Symphony)

Operatic soprano Jennifer Forni will perform Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” and Giacomo Puccini’s “Vissi d’arte” from “Tosca” as part of Juneau Symphony’s season-opening concert. (Courtesy Photo | Juneau Symphony)

This will be the first time Tchaikovsky’s sixth symphony will be performed in Juneau, according to the symphony.

“It’s very intense in the way that it changes moods and emotional states,” Koch said of Tchaikovsky’s symphony, which was finished shortly before the composer’s death. “He felt really good about it. The last piece is a lament. It’s slow, it’s very powerful, but it’s very different for him.”

Koch is currently music director of the Springfield Regional Opera, music director of the Missouri Philharmonic and co-founder/music director of the Joplin Symphony Orchestra. He also serves as executive director of the Springfield Regional Opera and was formerly music director for the contemporary group Ensemble 21.

The youth solo competition winner Yu was concertmaster of the Juneau Student Symphony from 2016 to 2018, according to Juneau Symphony, and has previously performed with the symphony.

Youth solo competition winner 15-year-old Alexander Yu, seen in this photo playing violin, will also join the Juneau Symphony Orchestra for Sarasate’s “Zigeunerweisen.” (Courtesy Photo | Juneau Symphony)

Youth solo competition winner 15-year-old Alexander Yu, seen in this photo playing violin, will also join the Juneau Symphony Orchestra for Sarasate’s “Zigeunerweisen.” (Courtesy Photo | Juneau Symphony)

[Small Southeast city tries for big borough]

However, this season will mark his first solo performance with the symphony.

Yu began studying violin when he was 4 years old with teacher Guo Hua Xia, according to the symphony.

“As a teacher, I like that Alex is always eager to learn new things and challenge himself,” Xia said in a press release.

Know & Go

What: Juneau Symphony Concerts

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20. There will be a pre-concert conversation an hour before each performance.

Where: Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Auditorium, 1639 Glacier Ave.

Admission: Tickets cost $15-$38. They are available through juneausymphony.org or by calling 586-4676.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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