Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra • Reaching New Heights of Spirit & Virtuosity

March 30th Performance Set to Shine the Spotlight on Guest Clarinetist Kennen White

    Additional Reporting by
    icon Mar 14, 2024
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For the fourth performance in their 88th Concert Season, the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra will be demonstrating not only their musical accomplishment and instrumental dexterity, but taking audiences on an engrossing and breathtaking journey with a program that features some of the most difficult and challenging compositions ever created within the canon of Classical Music.

Appropriately titled Spirit & Virtuosity, on Saturday, March 30th the SBSO conducted by Maestro Fouad Fakhouri, will take concert-goers on a virtuosic and highly spirited display of musical agility as they showcase Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture and Bartok’s notoriously difficult Concerto for Orchestra, as well as Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A-Major with the spotlight shining on special guest clarinetist Kennen White.

“We developed the title for this concert because of the two concertos by Bartok and Mozart, which will also feature our own principle clarinetist performing the Clarinet Concerto in A-Major, because whenever that work is performed it requires a soloist with a high level of talent on that instrument,” explains Fakhouri.

“This Mozart piece is one of the most well-known concertos for that instrument and our clarinetist Kennen White is just a brilliant performer on that instrument so I wanted to feature him so audiences could witness his talents in a different light.”

“Similarly, the Concerto for Orchestra that Bartok created is a piece that features every single instrument and section in the orchestra and requires them to play at the highest level of each instrument,” he continues. “Because it tests the ability and level of accomplishment of each section within the orchestra, this will easily be the most difficult and technically demanding concert of our entire season thus far.”

“We’ll be opening with Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture, which is also not an easy piece to perform, but we wanted to bookend this concert with pieces that demonstrate the orchestra’s virtuosity and spirit  at both the beginning and end of this performance, with the string section executing these incredibly fast flourishes.” he adds.

“Wagner is an interesting composer because typically he wrote these big long operatic pieces that last four or five hours, so consequently most people never hear them; so I wanted to put this snippet of Wagner into our concert as a way to continue to expose audiences to his music - and this is an amazing work,” notes Fakhouri.

“Every season we only feature five concerts, so our goal is to create variety within those five experiences,” he reflects.” This is the concert for die-hard classical music fans and the one people who love symphonic music and understand it a lot will not want to miss because it is a concert for them. I wouldn’t say these pieces are difficult or challenging to listen to, but for the orchestra it’s the real deal. Only top-notch orchestras world-wide usually perform these pieces  simply because of the level of musicianship that needs to be woven together.”

“We’ll be performing the Concerto for Orchestra with only three rehearsals and then the performance, and only in Saginaw, Michigan would I be able to do this piece with only three rehearsals because it is so very difficult and requires a lot of rehearsal time; but with the level of musicianship we have with the SBSO I believe we’ll be able to pull this piece off,” he notes.

Featured soloist Kennen White is currently a Professor of Clarinet at Central Michigan University and also performs with the Powers Woodwind Quintet. In addition to his role as principal clarinetist for the SBSO, he also performs with the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, Toledo Symphony, and the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra.

“We are very fortunate that most of our woodwind principals and our French Horn principals are all faculty at CMU,” continues Fakhouri. “Because of that they always play together in an ensemble, so immediately they share an understanding within the orchestra and know one another at a level that another different orchestra might not have.”

“What I love about Kennen  - apart from his high virtuosity and beautiful tone - is that he is a true musician with such an abundance of color and control of shading in his clarinet sound,” emphasizes Fakhouri. “He can make it scream, make it sorrowful, and is absolutely brilliant at coloring and shading on this instrument. Especially with brass and woodwinds, this can be difficult to do.”

“A lot of people are very capable and do their job well, but Keenen is one of those artists who can do a little bit extra and make something truly artistic without it seeming like much effort is involved - he is definitely one of those musicians.” 

Tickets can be purchased by clicking this link. 

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