September 21, 2009

New Director of Orchestral Studies Gears up for Dynamic Season

VALDOSTA - In today’s hustled pace, kept in time by the ping of BlackBerrys, some consider the orchestra painfully old fashioned. But Dr. Howard Hsu insists that letting one’s unplugged mind wander as melodies weave together into an auditory dance is exactly what people need to reflect on their lives.

The Valdosta Symphony Orchestra conductor, who was hired in January as VSU’s director of orchestral studies, said he aims to delight established symphony patrons with sophisticated concertos but also introduce orchestra newcomers to the moving harmonies of the VSO. Hsu plans to be instrumental in the cultivation of the Downtown Symphony Club, established in 2009 to entice young professionals to experience the orchestra.

“Everyone, myself included, has so much going on their lives that it can seem like a big time commitment to come to a concert, but I will say that people who do make the commitment will experience something incredibly unique and rewarding,” said Hsu, pronounced “shoo,” who earned a doctorate of musical arts at the University of Connecticut. “There's something so special about seeing and hearing wonderful musicians come together to recreate great works of art that have survived centuries. Music allows us to escape the quick speed of "now" and lets us take the time to reflect on anything it evokes.”

Hsu, who plays the violin, previously served as the assistant conductor of the University of Connecticut Symphony Orchestra and conductor of the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras. Prior to working in the university setting, Hsu debuted as a guest conductor with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and a number of ensembles and symphonies in the Northeast.

The Pennsylvania native said he is eager to begin the VSO’s 20th Anniversary Season, which features five concerts between October and May. Hsu’s first concert as the VSO conductor was the April 25 season-finale concert featuring piano soloist Alexander Ghindin performing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in Eb Major. He performed in September 2008, however, when he performed a trial concert as one of three conductors considered for the maestro position.

Hsu’s wife, Tamara Hardesty, a professional opera singer and voice instructor, will serve as an adjunct instructor of voice in the music department. Hardesty, who has performed as a featured soprano soloist at the Kennedy Center, will perform as a soloist during the VSO's December concert. Hsu and Hardesty are proud parents of their 3-year-old son, Hudson.

Valdosta Symphony Orchestra 2009-2010 Season

OCT. 3. Special Concert: “A Celebration.” The VSO celebrates its 20th anniversary season with a special opening night concert honoring Leona S. Hudson and her donation to the orchestra, and welcoming new Music Director Howard Hsu. Pianist Robert Henry, a Georgia native, returns to the VSO stage to perform Grieg’s beloved “Piano Concerto” and Beethoven’s “Choral Fantasy.” Also scheduled: Dvorak’s “My Home Overture” and Verdi’s “Triumphal March” from “Aida.”

DEC. 5. Subscription Concert No. 1. “The Human Voice.” “The December concert explores the beauty of the human voice with sensational soprano soloist Tamara Hardesty performing Mozart’s ‘Exsultate, Jubilate,’ and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony.”

FEB. 13. Subscription Concert No. 2. “Native Son.” International superstar violinist and Macon native Robert McDuffie joins the VSO in February to perform Tchaikovsky’s passionate Violin Concerto. “Mozart’s quicksilver Overture to the ‘Marriage of Figaro’ is sometimes referred to as the ‘egg-timer’ overture �" once the overture is done, so is your egg.” Also scheduled: Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.

MARCH 27. Subscription Concert No. 3. “Spirit.” Stunning virtuoso cellist Wendy Warner performs Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the VSO. Jonathan Bailey Holland’s “Motor City Dance Mix,” premiered by the Detroit Symphony, is “an exciting new work featuring the brass and percussion sections of the orchestra.” Also scheduled: Stravinsky’s 1919 “Firebird Suite.”
MAY 1. Subscription Concert No. 4. “Musical Colors.” “The entire VSO is featured in works by the masters of the orchestra: the world-changing Wagner, the innovative and unpredictable Berlioz, and uncompromising yet lyrical Brahms. A season-closing orchestral tour-de-force by the VSO.” Wagner’s “Tannhauser Overture,” Berlioz’s “Hungarian March,” Brahms’ Second Symphony.


The Valdosta Symphony Orchestra season tickets.
When: Season tickets are available starting this Saturday, Aug. 1.
Where: Season tickets may be purchased by calling VSU College of the Arts Outreach, 333-2150; or visit
Cost: Season tickets are $75, and include all five concerts, a savings of $25. Individual concert tickets are $20 each.

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