LSO Concerts 2015/16

LaGrange Symphony Orchestra’s 2015 /16 Concert Season


“A truly Grand Finale!”

The LSO April concert, PASSION & POWER, was appropriately named.  Performed with intense feeling and strength, this concert was indeed a GRAND finale for the 2015-16 season.

Once again, the pre-concert lecture presented by Dr. Beth Everett, which is a free perk with your ticket, was both informative and enlightening.  Since our guest artist is a bassoonist, Dr. Everett highlighted the bassoon and told us how the instrument has mechanically evolved through the ages.  Chandler Stuart, LaGrange Symphony Orchestra  bassoon principle, gave a very informative impromptu presentation of the instrument.  His first-hand knowledge and up-close demonstration really enhanced the lecture and promoted a greater appreciation for the instrument.

The concert began with Brahms: Academic Festival Overture.  This piece celebrates knowledge as a passionate pursuit.  In contrast to what you might expect, Brahms, in 1881, called it a “rollicking potpourri of student songs.”  Now, in 2016, it requires a slightly different description.  The overture was very dynamic and a joy to hear.  It was uplifting, strong and done as a splendid tribute to LaGrange College and academia.

Traian SturzaNext was Mozart: Bassoon Concerto in B-flat major.  This piece featured bassoonist Traian Sturza, winner of the Dorothy Allen Turner award.  Played with fluid and expressive talent, this piece mesmerized the audience.   The extreme breath control and stamina required to perform this piece with three movements was phenomenal.

After an intermission, Dr. Prior took the opportunity to thank the board of the LSO and President Gary Mayer for an exceptionally smooth transition into his first year as Maestro here in LaGrange.  He also expressed his appreciation to the wonderful musicians with whom he said there is a mutual trust and investment.

The final piece was Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in f minor.  It began slowly and introduced a central, rather somber theme of “fate.”  From there the piece transformed through four movements to reveal that happiness can be found and new energy can emerge from even the darkest times.  The ending was delightfully bold with what Dr. Everett had described as, far from bashful timpani.  Like a spectacular firework finale, this Tchaikovsky piece summed up the entire season and provided the splendid final cadence it deserved.  Spirited and continued applause with numerous Bravo’s and shouts of approval endorsed that this has been a monumental year.

2015/16 Season Finale

The festivities continued with a terrific reception at the Chamber of Commerce.  Smiles, laughter and great food were plentiful.  There was a large turnout and Traian Sturza was presented with his first place award by Callie Hammond, LSO Assistant Concertmaster.

Callie is the granddaughter of Dorothy Allen Turner, for whom the award is named. The family has sponsored the Young Artists Competition’s first place prize in memory of Mrs. Turner for 20 years. Here are a few photos.

Dorothy Allen Turner Award

Traian Sturza surrounded by members of the family of Dorothy Allen Turner….Callie Hammond, granddaughter, Render McLeod and Hooper Hammond, great-grandsons, and Isabelle Turner Knight, daughter, and her husband Charles Knight.

Dorothy Allen Turner Award 2016

LSO Music Director and Conductor Dr. Richard Prior and Dr. Ronald Wirt, LSO contrabassoonist and CSU professor of music, under whom Traian studies, are shown with members of the family of Dorothy Allen Turner – Callie Hammond, granddaughter; Hooper Hammond and Render McLeod, great-grandsons, and Isabelle Turner Knight, daughter.

Lots of questions about next season were asked.  The dates of the 2016/17 concerts were published in the program, but no other information is being announced.  You can be sure that something of great significance is slated of which you will want to be a part.  Remember, Season Ticket Holders will be the first to hear the news!

Thank you for supporting the arts in LaGrange, and especially the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra.


The March concert, VARIATIONS, dedicated to devoted community member and avid LSO supporter, is Captivating and Impressive!

[Read more about this concert’s dedication to Major General Donald J. Harlin HERE.]

“Beautiful… Just, beautiful”

Pre Concert LectureFor many, the concert began with a very informative and fun mini-lecture on the evening’s music. Dr. Beth Everett, Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities, gave a brief, surprisingly interactive, talk full of information about the four works slated to be performed. She mentioned things for which to listen and gave interesting tidbits that related to the composers and their time period. This insight greatly enriched the listening experience of the concert. If you’ve not previously attended one of these mini-lectures, you may not realize the added-value that comes with your ticket.

Side By Side

First on the program was the side-by-side performance mixing the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra with the LSYO (LaGrange Symphony Youth Orchestra). The LSYO is conducted by Celeste Myall. Dr. Prior recognized her and the fact that these students were very well prepared. The ambitious music of Sibelius: Finlandia was indeed performed beautifully. In this photo you can see the full stage.

March 22 2016
(Click photo to enlarge)
The LSO makes great efforts to encourage, promote, teach, and give voice to young musicians in our community. This professional performance proved the success of the LSO efforts in musical education.

Second in the program was Vaughan Williams: Five Variants of ‘Dives and Lazarus’. This piece of music in an English pastoral style, was a personal favorite, and brought hearty applause. It was actually written specifically for the 1939 World’s Fair and was requested to be particularly English in spirit.

Third was Brahms: Variations on a Theme of Joseph Haydn. There were eight variations plus the finale. If you attended the lecture or read the program notes, you would know that Haydn did not actually write it. Copyright was not an issue in those days, and this piece was probably written by one of Haydn’s students. It was attributed to Haydn because he was well known and the piece would be better received with his name in the title. Regardless of the history, the music stands on its own merit.

The final piece was very recognizable even without the title – Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Perfect for this Variations concert and performed with strength and precision. Thunderous and continued applause followed.


Dr. Prior and Dr. Wood

This was a truly enjoyable concert from beginning to end.

“Enjoyed it immensely”

As always, thank you for supporting the arts in LaGrange, and especially the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra.


The weather was incredibly cold outside. Everyone was bundled up in massive winter coats, but January 23rd was warm and toasty inside Callaway Auditorium. The PoPs concert with the Gary Motley Trio and the LSO Chamber Orchestra was the perfect thing to attend. It was like a hot toddy to bring your spirits up and was especially enjoyable on a wintry weekend.

The Gary Motley Trio

First of all, the stage was set up perfectly where the three instruments of the trio were acoustically featured and blended very well with the large number of musicians in the Chamber Orchestra. This can be difficult because even though it was not a full orchestra, numerous stringed instruments together can produce quite a volume. However, neither the trio nor the orchestra overpowered but rather they complemented each other. Fine musicians, good planning, technical savvy and a knowing maestro are to be appreciated here. Gary also commented on what a terrific venue we have in Callaway Auditorium and how nice it was to play in such a beautiful and acoustically rich facility.

It was apparent that the bass, one of the instruments in the trio, had a lot of miles on it as it had some extensive travel wear. For a Jazz enthusiast, that is quite a good sign that the music will be terrific and it certainly was. Feet were tapping and heads were keeping time with the grooves all across the auditorium.

Gary Motley, of course, was on the piano.Gary Motley

Neal Starkey was on bass,Neal Starkey

and Emrah Kotan was on drums.Emrah Kotan

Joining the trio on a few numbers was Veronica Motley, singer and composer. She has an unbelievable vocal range and is the beautiful wife of Gary Motley.Veronica Motley

Our own Maestro, Richard Prior, corroborated with the Gary Motley Trio and perfectly blended in the LaGrange Symphony Chamber Orchestra.

Several of the numbers were original compositions by Gary and his wife or original interpretations by the trio. In between numbers, Gary talked about the music to give us a better understanding of from where the piece came and what made it special enough for him to include in the line-up. This extra insight made the concert that much more delicious.

We heard songs about love, dreams, stars and one lyric stated, “You won’t forget me… wait and see.” When the concert ended, the audience gave a standing ovation and insisted on one last encore performance.

Too soon it was again time to get bundled up and brave the weather. We had forgotten about the cold temperature outside, but we won’t forget the PoPs concert with the Gary Motley Trio and the LaGrange Symphony Chamber Orchestra.

Here are a few photos from the fabulous reception afterwards.

Reception Jan 23 2016Reception Jan 23 2016


Full House, Full Stage, Full Hearts, Full Evening

December 15, 2015 marked the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas Celebration with Holiday Presence.

Sold OutPerformed in front of a sold-out house, the third concert in the 2015/16 series “PASSION – POWER – PRESENCE – PRIOR” continued to impress. Unlike the Legends of Fire concert, the mood was more ethereal. The emphasis was solidly on the holidays beginning with Anderson’s A Christmas Festival. Under the direction of Dr. Richard Prior, the spirit of the evening continued appropriately with Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, which was performed with precision and delicacy.

Then, with impressive numbers, the combined Honor’s Choir, comprised of members of the LaGrange High School Chorus and the Troup Comprehensive High School Chorus, joined the LSO on stage. Along with soloists, Dr. Beth Everett and Dr. Andrea Mueller, we were treated to Vivaldi’s Gloria in D Major.


Dr. Everett and Dr. Mueller are shown here receiving bouquets of flowers along with standing applause from the audience. The combined choir performed as a well-polished unit with fine diction and presentation. It was impressive to see these young adults achieve the level of collaboration it takes to function with uniformity. After the Gloria in D, they remained on stage for the traditional holiday sing-a-long.

Dr. Prior

Donning a festive red scarf, Dr. Prior generated a large number of smiles both in the audience and on stage. For the sing-a-long, all the lyrics were printed in the program so everyone could participate.

Full Stage

( click image to enlarge )

The evening didn’t end with the last carol being sung. The audience and the performers seemed to melt together with lots of congratulations on a fine performance and well wishes for the holidays. In that same sentiment, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year. Thank you for supporting the arts in LaGrange, and especially the LSO.


Legends of Fire was not for the faint of heart!

“Expressive & Exciting”
“Thrilling Dynamics!”

These were a few comments made after the LSO’s November performance, which is the second in the 2015/16 series “PASSION – POWER – PRESENCE – PRIOR”. This concert season is under the musical direction of the LSO’s new conductor Dr. Richard Prior. Not only is this inaugural season touted as building a new sound, there also seems to be a new energy coming from the stage. This is showing through the music and the results are extraordinary. It’s like a positive energy that you can feel, see and hear.

November 3, 2015

November 3, 2015

This energy was also apparent through the guest concertmaster, Dr. Sinisa Ciric. In this photo, Dr. Ciric is shown chatting with a patron after the concert.

Dr. Ciric

The November concert, which was performed in front of a full house, was definitely a continuation of the high standards set with the October concert Musical Chemistry. The night’s event began with Beethoven’s Prometheus Overture and continued with one of Mozart’s symphonies based in a minor key (there are only two).  This Mozart piece was Symphony No. 40 in g minor.

Dr. Prior spoke briefly about the LSO’s desire to perform audience favorites in a very high degree, while also introducing us to other great pieces which may be less familiar. In this season of holidays, it was very nice to be offered this wonderful gift of new experiences and given the opportunity to acquire new appreciations.

The concert continued with Khachaturian and his Spartacus Suite No. 2. The final piece of the evening was the robust Stravinsky Firebird Suite that ended with a rousing round of applause. It was definitely an evening very well spent!

“One of the best performances
of Khachaturian I’ve ever heard!”

“Tonight was not for
the Faint of Heart! – terrific”


Thank you to all of our patrons for supporting the Arts in LaGrange and especially the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra.


Jessica Wu

Jessica Wu is shown above as she received a well deserved standing ovation at the LSO October concert.

“A terrific way to open the season! – Wonderful performance!”  “Very nice touches throughout – Bravo”

October 6th marked the LSO’s opening concert for the 2015 /16 “PASSION – POWER – PRESENCE – PRIOR” season titled Musical Chemistry, conducted by Dr. Richard Prior.  Featuring guest artist Jessica Wu, this concert delivered everything promised and more.  Beginning with a terrific rendition of our National Anthem, the LSO and the audience chemistry began.  From there the performance continued to mesmerize with: Tchaikovsky:  Violin Concerto; Smetana:  Moldau; Borodin:  Symphony No. 2

There were numerous special guests in attendance and a few who had travelled all the way from England.  The recently auctioned art pieces for the Painted Strings project were on display.  Winners of the auctions that closed that day were made public.  Congratulations to all the October winners.  There is still time to bid on other Painted String pieces!

Dr. Prior Standing OvationWhen the concert came to a close, Dr. Prior and the LSO also received a well deserved, heartwarming, standing ovation.

Many patrons commented on how excited they are for this season to continue.  It is our goal to bring a sense of celebration to each concert and to make each audience member eagerly await the next performance.  The wonderful comments are a joy to hear.  Thank you to all of our patrons for supporting the Arts in LaGrange and especially the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra.

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