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Gwyneth Walker

Holyoke Civic Symphony Concert Scheduled Sunday

by Donnie Moorehouse, Music Writer


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December 9, 1999: Music inspired by the coming of the new millennium will feature prominently in the Holyoke Civic Symphony's new concert season which kicks off Sunday in the Leslie Phillips Forum at Holyoke Community College. This tip of the hat to the turn of the century will include Overture 2000, a recent work by composer Gwyneth Walker. The piece was first performed last year.

"You have to be ready!" Walker laughed about the impending millennium and her piece's early debut by the Mid-Columbia Symphony in Richland, Wash. "When writing an overture, I like to create a piece of music with open intervals and uncluttered ideas." Walker relates her overture to the millennium, which she said will have "all sorts of possibilities."

Walker is a graduate of Brown University and the Hartt School of Music in Hartford and holds a doctorate in music composition. A former faculty member at Oberlin College Conservatory, she left academia in 1982 to pursue a career as a composer.

Walker said she enjoys attending concerts by the many orchestras such as the Holyoke Civic Symphony that choose to perform her works.

"The people who play your music are important," Walker said. "Members of the Holyoke Civic Symphony give up their Monday evenings to rehearse my music, and surely I can give up one Monday night to meet them," she added about a recent visit to one of their rehearsals.

As for her own thoughts on the turn of the century, Walker said "people are always looking to find a reason to celebrate."

"It is interesting to be living at a time when the century is changing," Walker said. "I wonder what aspirations people had 100 years ago when the century was changing."

According to conductor David Kidwell, all four concerts this season will feature favorites from the Holyoke Civic Symphony's repertoire, as well as one newly composed work. In addition to the overture Sunday, Holyoke Civic Symphony will perform Ralph Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending," featuring solo violinist Janet van Blerkom of the Pioneer Valley Symphony. The program will end with Cesar Franck's Symphony in D Minor.

Founded in 1963 at Holyoke Community College, Holyoke Civic Symphony is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a variety of opportunities for people in the community to perform and listen to symphonic works. The orchestra is composed of non-professional musicians who rehearse weekly.

Originally printed in The Union-News and Sunday Republican, Springfield, Massachusetts. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.