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Prescott Chamber Orchestra features trumpet concertos Feb. 6-7

Kudos file photo

Kudos file photo

When it comes to trumpets, their musical role is usually delegated to more ceremonial functions ranging from military honors to fanfares at the Olympic Games. However, this does not suggest that they are less important.

In Medieval times, these musicians were often the most heavily guarded members of armies (even more than the officers), due to their function of relaying important strategic instructions over vast battlefields.

But alas, the instrument has had a love/hate relationship with classical composers, even though it has evolved into a sophisticated instrument with designs such as the piccolo trumpet (that could fit in your coat pocket), the modern trumpet (available in eight different keys), and the strange-looking one played by Dizzy Gillespie.

Two composers in particular who highlighted the instrument were Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) and Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837). Telemann liked the instrument so much that he even wrote several concertos for three trumpets! At the upcoming Prescott Chamber Orchestra (PCO) concert, these two concertos will be performed by Emery Harvison, Assistant Principal Trumpet of the Phoenix Symphony, who has mastered the instrument since a young age.

Speaking of talented youth, many classical composers, like shooting stars, have had bright but short-lived lives. Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826), for instance, is known as one of the first major Romantic composers. Prolific as a pianist, conductor, and opera composer, he actually completed his first opera ("Peter Schmoll") at the age of 15. Apparently, his confidence also blossomed as well since he became a newspaper critic during the same year. He died from tuberculosis at the age of 39 and was buried in London. However, two decades later, based on German pride, his body was transferred to his final resting place in Dresden. By that time, his importance was firmly established: Richard Wagner performed the eulogy. In honor of young composers, the PCO takes pride in highlighting local talent, and for this upcoming concert, Matthew Lanning and his work, "Sanctuary," will open the second half of the program.

Last, but not least, the PCO will be performing a work by famed French composer Edouard Lalo (1823-1892). Although he was a talented youngster who studied at the Paris Conservatoire by the age of 16, his musical ventures into opera were less successful since they were ironically considered too "Wagnerian" in sound. To make a living, he resorted to writing chamber music and shorter gems for chamber orchestra for most of his life. Lalo was ultimately praised by the French government and buried with honors at the same Parisian cemetery where Georges Bizet, Maria Callas, and Frederic Chopin (among others) rest. For those of you who are Star Trek (The Next Generation) fans, the episode titled, "We Will Always Have Paris," included the U.S.S. Lalo.

If you want to hear not one but two trumpet concertos, a work by Lalo, a new work by a local composer, and an overture by von Weber (conducted by yours truly), the PCO - led by Phil Kuhns - will be performing two concerts at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Prescott: Friday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 7, at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, $5 for students (12 to 18) and of course, free for children younger than 12. Discounts are offered when purchasing tickets online at: www.prescottstrings.com.

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