Haunting music

Spooky, eerie, dark and forbidding will be the musical atmosphere at Sunday's Haunting Music concert by the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, a show featuring a return engagement by East Grand Forks native and crowd-pleasing trombonist Nick...

Spooky, eerie, dark and forbidding will be the musical atmosphere at Sunday's Haunting Music concert by the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, a show featuring a return engagement by East Grand Forks native and crowd-pleasing trombonist Nick Hagen.

The concert at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Empire Arts Center will feature the crashing drama of "Night on Bald Mountain" and the ethereal beauty of "Enchanted Lake" by Liadov, among other numbers. Hagen will solo on David's Concertino for Trombone and Orchestra.

Children are encouraged to come in costume. The concert will be followed by a reception sponsored by North Valley Arts Council.

Guest conductor will be Alexander Platt, Chicago, one of the finalists for the music director position with the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra.

Tickets for the performance will be $20 and $15 for the general public. Student tickets are $10. Tickets are available in advance by calling (701) 777-3359 or by going to . They'll also be sold at the door for one hour before the concert.


Hagen, 22, is a recent graduate of The Juilliard School in New York City. He has played with the Minnesota Orchestra and later this fall will travel to Malaysia to perform with the Malaysia Philharmonic Orchestra. He has been part of the soon-to-be-released 50th anniversary recording collection of the American Brass Quintet, arguably the nation's premier brass quintet, according to program notes from the symphony.

During his time in New York, he performed with the New Juilliard Ensemble and Axiom, a contemporary music ensemble. He has traveled with Juilliard ensembles to China and Holland and appeared briefly in the 2006 Robert DeNiro film, "The Good Shepherd."

Hagen, a graduate of East Grand Forks Senior High School, has a history with the symphony. In 2003, he was the winner of its annual Young Artist Concerto Competition. He also performed as a soloist with the symphony in November 2007.

Platt is the third of five finalists in the symphony's music director search to visit Grand Forks. Educated at Yale College, he was a conducting fellow at both Aspen and Tanglewood and then at King's College Cambridge under a British Marshall Scholarship.

As one of America's younger conductors, Platt has combined a commitment to regional orchestras with projects on the international scene. He's about to begin his 14th year as music director of the Waukesha (Wis.) Symphony and the Marion (Ind.) Philharmonic and is principal conductor of the Boca Raton Symphonia.

Here's a bit about the music that will be performed Sunday, from the symphony's program notes:

- "The Enchanted Lake": Russian composer Anatol Liadov (1855-1914) was a lifelong procrastinator. He was expelled from the St. Petersburg Conservatory for skipping class. This piece was intended for inclusion in an opera that was never completed.

- "Night on Bald Mountain": In the church calendar, Nov. 1 is All Saints Day, and the night before is All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, a curious mixture of pagan and Christian traditions. "Night on Bald Mountain" by Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) reflects the sacred and the profane. The piece went through several revisions, including a new ending in which a church bell announces the dawn and chases away evil spirits. Today, "Night on Bald Mountain" may be best known for its part in the Walt Disney movie "Fantasia."


- "Concertino for Trombone in E-flat Major, Opus 4": Ferdinand David (1810-1873) was one of the first romantic composer to write for the trombone. He wrote this piece at the suggestion of Mendelssohn for the trombonist Carl Taugott Queisser, who joined the orchestra in New Leipzig, Germany, in 1817 and became an acclaimed musician and soloist. Today, it is considered one of David's finest works and is one of the cornerstones of the trombone repertory.

- Ballet Music from the Opera "Faust": The legend of Faust, a man who sold his soul to eternal damnation so he could have all the pleasures of Earth, inspired the great French composer Charles-Francois Gounod (1818-1883). His wrote this as a ballet sequence in a grand opera in which Faust is presented with classic beauties such as Helen of Troy and Cleopatra. The music is suave, lush and seductive until the end, when literally all hell breaks loose.

- "Le Chasseur Maudit": This symphonic poem by Cesar Franck (1822-1890) was based on an 18th century ballad which in turn was based on the German legend "Der wilde Jäger" ("The Wild Huntsman"). In it, the wild Count of the Rhine is hunting, chasing across the grain fields, moors and prairies on a Sunday morning, ignoring the ringing church bells and chanting worshipers. Suddenly, he's alone. His horse can't move. His horn is silent. A grim pitiless voice curses him: "Desecrator," it says, "be thou forever pursued by the Evil One." Flames blaze up on all sides, and the terrified count is pursued by a pack of demons.

Reach Tobin at (701) 780-1134; (800) 477-6572, ext. 134; or send e-mail to .

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