'Fun, lively' program in store as college orchestra plans end-of-semester concert

Baroque, classical, romantic and contemporary eras all represented

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • The orchestra will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18 at the Henderson Performing Arts Center Performance Hall on the college campus.
  • Tickets are $8 for adults, and $6 for students and seniors.
  • Tickets are $8 for adults, and $6 for students and seniors. All music students of any age will be admitted free by supplying the name of their instructor or program at the door.

FARMINGTON — San Juan College music professor Teun Fetz is the first to acknowledge that the music he selects for the San Juan Orchestra’s end-of-semester concerts often cover a range of eras, styles and moods.

But the program he has put together for the orchestra’s performance this weekend is eclectic and far reaching even by his standards, with selections varying from the baroque and classical to romantic and contemporary eras. Fetz said the lineup will include dance, folk and chorale styles.

“I’m kind of random with my picks of repertoire, but I tend to choose music that I would want to listen to as an audience member,” he said, explaining his approach.

Fetz apparently was in the mood for fun, lively music this semester, because that’s the way he describes most of the material on the program. Topping the list is Ludwig Van Beethoven’s “Fidelio Overture,” the signature piece for the only opera the famed German composer ever wrote, and “Blue Tango” by Leroy Anderson, a 20th century American composer whose work is considered essential to the pops repertoire.

The work of British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams is well represented, as Fetz chose his “Rhosymedre” and “Prelude to ‘49th Parallel’” for the program. The latter was part of the score for a 1941 war film and marked the composer’s entrée into that field, which eventually saw him craft nearly a dozen film scores.

Perhaps the highlight of the evening will be a performance of “The Christmas Concerto” by Arcangelo Corelli. Fetz said the piece does not have a significant connection to the holiday, but it includes Christmas in the title because Corelli wrote it during that time of year.

Teun Fetz will lead the San Juan College Orchestra in a concert this weekend at the Henderson Performing Arts Center Performance Hall.

The orchestra’s performance will feature Tennille Taylor and Cathy Pope on violin, Hans Freuden on cello and Robyn Woodard on harpsichord. All four are fixtures of the local music scene and help anchor the orchestra, which is comprised of a mix of San Juan College students and community members.

The orchestra consists of 44 musicians this semester, which Fetz said falls well within the group’s typical size. This weekend’s concert will showcase the strings section, but Fetz said a full orchestra will be featured, with woodwinds, brass, percussion and strings all being represented.

It’s not always easy to meet those specifications, Fetz said, noting that members come and go each semester, with the COVID-19 pandemic having a significant impact on participation over the last two-plus years. Fetz said he often finds himself tailoring the group’s music to meet the realities of whatever situation he is facing.

“That’s part of the game,” he said. “You accept that as the rules of the road when you play in this ensemble.”

Fetz said he tries to strike a delicate balance between choosing material that will challenge and inspire his more-experienced, professional players and compositions that won’t intimidate or overwhelm the students who may not be as technically proficient as their counterparts.

Fetz said he encourages his older musicians to serve as mentors for the younger performers, creating an esprit de corps that makes everyone feel connected.

“Anytime you’re around a better player, you’re improving,” Fetz said, comparing music to his former pursuit as a college baseball player. “You don’t always want to be the best musician in the group. You want to be around somebody better than yourself because that’s how you grow.”

The orchestra will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, at the Henderson Performing Arts Center Performance Hall on the college campus, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington. Tickets are $8 for adults, and $6 for students and seniors. All music students of any age will be admitted free by supplying the name of their instructor or program at the door.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 ormeasterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.