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Alma Symphony Orchestra Opens 58th Season with Tribute to American Music

Spirituals, movie music and works by well-known American composers highlight the performance, which also features guest soprano soloist LaToya Lain.

<em>Conductor Murray Gross and the Alma Symphony Orchestra.</em>Conductor Murray Gross and the Alma Symphony Orchestra.

The Alma Symphony Orchestra opens its 58th season with a tribute to American music, including “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” featuring guest soprano soloist LaToya Lain.

The program combines spirituals, movie music and works by well-known American composers. The concert begins at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22 in the Remick Heritage Center at Alma College. Tickets are $15 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.

<em>LaToya Lain</em>LaToya Lain“This is a concert featuring all American composers but with a lot of variety,” says Murray Gross, who returns for his 14th season as music director and conductor. “The program includes some very familiar music, such as the works by Scott Joplin and Duke Ellington, as well as pieces that may not be as well-known but are just as wonderful.”

Lain joins the orchestra for Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” — a piece Gross describes as “very moving” and “special.”

“LaToya Lain is a fantastic singer,” says Gross. “Aside from her gorgeous voice, she also is so good at communicating with her audience. This work by Barber is one of my personal favorites.”

The program also includes Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” Elmer Bernstein’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Magnificent Seven,” Joplin’s “Ragtime Dance” and Arthur Foote’s “Air” from “Serenade for Strings.”

Lain joins the orchestra to close the concert with a pair of spirituals from “The Promised Land.”

“This concert, with so much variety and familiar music, is ideal for people who have not attended an orchestral concert before,” says Gross. “From the opening piece to the spirituals that close the program, this is a concert of great music that the entire family can enjoy.”

<em>Alma Symphony Orchestra</em>Alma Symphony OrchestraLain, a native of New Orleans, has taught vocal music at various universities in Alabama, New York and Michigan and is currently an assistant professor at Central Michigan University. She has performed in Africa, Europe and South America and was the requested soloist to sing the national anthem for President Barack Obama during his 2012 campaign visit to Nevada.

In addition to teaching and performing, Lain promotes and preserves the art of the Negro Spiritual; she has performed and recorded with the Moses Hogan Chorale and is a touring member of The American Spiritual Ensemble.

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 October 04, 2017