Alma Symphony Orchestra Performs Music from the British Isles

Will Nichols joins the orchestra to sing three of his favorite Handel arias.

<em>Members of the Alma Symphony Orchestra.</em> Members of the Alma Symphony Orchestra.The Alma Symphony Orchestra takes a musical journey to the British Isles for its annual mid-winter performance. Alma College’s own Will Nichols joins the orchestra to sing arias by Handel, while Alma’s Scottish heritage is showcased.

The concert takes place at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19 in the Remick Heritage Center at Alma College. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors 62 and up, and free for Alma College staff, students and youth 18 and under. Seating is reserved. Call (989) 463-7304 for ticket information.

The program opens with excerpts from Handel’s familiar “Music for the Royal Fireworks,” followed by a set of arias featuring Nichols, the Secrest Professor of Music at Alma College and director of the Alma Choirs.

An Appreciation for Handel’s Music

“A highlight of our concert is Will Nichols,” says Murray Gross, music director and orchestra conductor. “He has performed with the orchestra on several occasions and has chosen three of his favorite Handel arias to sing. The orchestra looks forward to performing with him.”

<em>Will Nichols</em> Will NicholsNichols, a member of the Alma faculty since 1983, has sung with virtually every symphony orchestra and oratorio society in Michigan during his professional career.

“Through the years I have come to love Handel’s music more and more, and I’ve tried to share this with our students through our performances of ‘Saul’ last year and ‘Israel in Egypt’ a few years ago,” says Nichols. “The hardest part was picking just three from the dozens of arias on my ‘all-time’ favorite list. I hope we’ve chosen three that everyone will enjoy.”

Program Also Features Music from Scotland

The second half of the program highlights Scotland, including excerpts from Felix Mendelssohn’s Third Symphony, titled “Scottish.”

“This has always been one of my favorites to conduct,” says Gross. “Mendelssohn has such a wonderful way with melodies, and he always does something a little bit unexpected.”

The program closes with “An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise” by Peter Maxwell Davies.

“I’ve done this piece a number of times, and it’s always an audience favorite,” says Gross. “Davies lived for many years on the Isle of Skye and attended a wedding there. He composed this very descriptive piece about the wedding, depicting the storm as wedding guests arrive, the dancing and the drinking. This is a piece that ends with a big surprise, which I don’t want to give away.”

The approximately 80-member Alma Symphony Orchestra includes a mix of professional musicians from the mid-Michigan area and Alma College student-performers.

Story published on January 31, 2017