Prairie Ensemble goes 'Around the World'
CHAMPAIGN — The Prairie Ensemble will take audience members "Around the World in One Night" at its next concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at McKinley Presbyterian Church, 809 S. Fifth St., C.
The program will feature music from Japan, Eurasia, Italy and an Africa-inspired Harlem, with guest artist/koto virtuoso Yoko Reikano Kimura in Daron Hagen's "Genji: Concerto for Koto and Chamber Orchestra."
Other pieces on the program are Darius Milhaud's jazzy "The Creation of the World," Alan Hovhaness's Armenian-inspired "Tzaikerk" ("Evening Song") and Felix Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony.
"In 2011 we featured the pipa, a Chinese lute-like instrument, in one of our concerts," said ensemble music director and conductor Kevin Kelly, "and audiences were very enthusiastic. So, when I was introduced to Yoko Kimura last year, I thought it would be a great idea to introduce her and her instrument to our audience as well."
The koto is a type of zither — sometimes called the Japanese harp. It commonly has 13 strings over 13 movable bridges.
Kimura won first prize at the 10th Kenjun Memorial National Koto Competition and at the fourth Great Wall International Music Competition. She received her stage name "Reikano" from Hiroko Nakanoshima, daughter of the legendary koto and shamisen performer/composer Kin'ichi Nakanoshima.
"It's a great honor to have her play with us," Kelly said.
He will talk about the pieces in the program during the Concert Conversation at 7 p.m. Here are some details:
— American composer Hagen's "Genji" concerto is based on the 11th 0century Japanese tale of "Genji." The concerto tells the story of Prince Genji, who falls in love with a woman from afar after hearing her play the koto.
— Hovhaness's "Tzaikerk," written in 1945 for flute, violin, timpani and strings, evolved from his early fascination with Armenian harmonies, which he learned while an organist at an Armenian church in Massachusetts. As one critic has noted, the music touches your heart instead of wrecking your nerves.
— Much different is Milhaud's boisterous "The Creation of the World," based on African creation myths musically presented in what, for Milhaud, was the brand-new American jazz style he discovered on a visit to Harlem in 1922. Written for a prominent Paris ballet troupe, the premiere caused a sensation.
— Mendelssohn's popular Italian Symphony is a work whose sunny themes and sprightly tempos leave audiences smiling.
Tickets are $18 for general admission and $8 for children and students with ID. To purchase tickets or for more information, contact The Prairie Ensemble at 355-9077 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.PrairieEnsemble.org.