World premiere by Prescott composer tackles ragtime dances

New piece features marimba and ‘dance partners’

Percussionist Maria Flurry, right, rehearses with the Prescott Chamber Orchestra as they practice “Ragtime Dances,” a world premiere, for the Exotic Spring concert Friday, April 7.

Percussionist Maria Flurry, right, rehearses with the Prescott Chamber Orchestra as they practice “Ragtime Dances,” a world premiere, for the Exotic Spring concert Friday, April 7.

The Prescott Chamber Orchestra presents its concert performance, “Exotic Spring,” under the direction of Philip Kuhns, which offers a new suite of dances for marimba and orchestra composed by Prescott resident Henry Flurry and featuring gifted musician Maria Flurry.

The 7 p.m. concert takes place Friday, April 7, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 2000 Shepherd’s Lane, near the airport. Regular pricing is $20/adults, $5/children 12-18, and younger than 12 are free. Reduced ticket prices offered online at Prescottchamberorchestra.com.

“Ragtime Dances for Marimba and Orchestra” is based upon the ragtime-influenced ballroom dance music of the 1910s, Henry Flurry said. The movements are each named after the dance step that features a soloist from the orchestra as a “dance partner” to the marimba — a nod to ballroom etiquette.

The first movement with a violin partner, “Machiche,” is a dance step that originated in Brazil and evolved into the Samba. The second, “Waltz,” features a French horn partner.

The third, “Polka,” with a flute partner takes on one of the most popular dances of the previous century. The fourth, “Half and Half,” with a trumpet partner is so named for its 5/4 meter suggesting a dance that is half waltz and half two-step.

The final movement, “Foxtrot,” with a clarinet partner, is known for its high energy and heavily swung (dotted) rhythms.

Soloists include Bill Cummings (violin), LeAnne Lawhead (flute), Ryan Gastonguay (French horn), Rich Longfield (trumpet), and Gary Flowers (clarinet). Percussionist Maria Flurry plays a rosewood marimba that is 6.5 feet in length.

Also on the program is “Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra” by Launy Grondahl featuring trombonist Peter Mueller, “Los Esclavos Felices Overture” by Juan Arriaga, and “The Banks of Green Willow” by George Butterworth.