Wichita State News

WSU Summer Symphony Orchestra to feature pianist Julie Bees

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wichita State University faculty pianist Julie Bees will appear as soloist with the WSU Summer Symphony Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 29, in Wilner Auditorium.

The program, led by WSU Director of Orchestras Mark Laycock, includes music by Beethoven, Elgar and Margaret Brouwer. Tickets are $7 with discounts available through the College of Fine Arts Box Office, (316) 978-3233.

Bees will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major. Professor of piano and director of the Konrad Wolff-Ilse Bing Chamber Music Endowment Award at WSU, she has played recitals and given master classes in many of the world’s most prestigious musical centers, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Vienna, Brussels, The Hague, Leipzig, Milan, Helsinki, Warsaw, St. Petersburg, Hungary and Finland.

Beethoven’s five piano concertos occupied him from 1790-1809. However, the genre attracted his efforts as early as 1784, at age 13, and as late as 1815, when he scrapped plans for a sixth concerto because of increasing deafness. Although the work being performed by Bees was his second completed concerto, Beethoven elected to have it published first, likely due to its grand scale, virtuosic style and mature musical ideas.

Edward Elgar’s “Variations on an Original Theme” (“Enigma”) was composed in 1899. Each of the 14 variations, framed by the theme and finale, portrays a specific individual, allowing Elgar to explore in musical terms a broad range of styles and characters.

Margaret Brouwer’s “Pulse,” commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, is a brief, colorful overture marked by strong rhythmic energy and dense counterpoint. Former head of the composition department at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Brouwer has been recognized with awards from the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The intergenerational Summer Symphony Orchestra, an outgrowth of the WSU Symphony, includes members from such communities as Hutchinson, El Dorado, Arkansas City and Wichita. It comprises high school and university students, music educators, professional performers and seasoned amateurs.

Bees has performed with the Denver, Dallas and Augusta symphony orchestras, the Santa Barbara Festival Orchestra, the Youth Symphony of New York, at Carnegie Hall and at Lehman College.

She was a semifinalist in the 1983 Clara Haskil International Piano Competition in Montreux-Vevey, Switzerland; national winner in the 1978 MTNA Collegiate Competition in Chicago; winner of the Olga Samaroff Prize in the University of Maryland William Kapell International Piano Competition; fourth in the Washington International Competition for Pianists at the Kennedy Center; and a finalist in the Beethoven Foundation Auditions. Her piano students have been successful in competitions at every level, and include Christopher Taylor, who won the bronze medal at the 1993 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Laycock is an associate professor of music at Wichita State University, where he holds the Ann Walenta Faculty of Distinction Endowed Professorship.  In 2007, he was recognized with the College of Fine Arts Excellence in Teaching Award. He was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic. His work as guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator spans 20 states, including leading all-state, regional and district honor orchestras; upcoming engagements encompass Oklahoma, Illinois, Nebraska and Missouri, as well as the Washington All-State Orchestra. His appearances with professional ensembles include the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, Wichita Grand Opera and Opera Kansas, as well as orchestras in Slovakia and Canada.

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