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UW Symphony Orchestra to Perform ‘Earth and Sky’ Oct. 25

October 22, 2018
three women holding string instruments
Members of Musica Harmonia are, from left, violinist Joan Griffing; UW cellist Beth Vanderborgh; and violist Diane Phoenix-Neal. They will perform Thursday, Oct. 25, during the UW Symphony Orchestra’s concert at the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts concert hall. (Susan Mullally Photo)

The University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra (UWSO) will perform a world-premiere piece by distinguished composer Gwyneth Walker Thursday, Oct. 25.

UW’s symphony will debut Walker’s “Earth and Sky,” a multimedia piece that includes solo string trio, narrators, projected images and orchestra at 7:30 p.m. in the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts concert hall.

Tickets for the concert cost $12 for the public, $8 for senior citizens and $6 for students. Tickets are available at the Performing Arts box office and the Wyoming Union information desk, by calling (307) 766-6666 or by going online at

Walker is a New England Quaker with a catalog that includes more than 350 commissioned works. She is a favorite of UW faculty cellist Beth Vanderborgh, who is part of the violin-viola-cello trio Musica Harmonia, which commissioned the work and will perform the solo parts.

“The UWSO is extremely fortunate that it was chosen for the premiere,” says UWSO music Director Michael Griffith.

The overall themes -- shared by the trio, the composer and the authors -- are “reverence for the Earth and respect for all people,” Griffith says.

Included are quotes from Henry David Thoreau; Chief Joseph, of the Nez Perce tribe; and Chief Seattle, of the Suquamish tribe. The narrators will be Eric Bennett, Mia Holt and Peter Parolin. The historic photographs were curated by John Waggener from the UW American Heritage Center’s collection.

“The music is mostly transparent and energetic, almost shimmering,” Griffith says. “Walker chose the title ‘Earth and Sky’ for this fascinating triple concerto.”

Musica Harmonia was formed in 2007 to promote peace and cultural understanding through musical collaboration. The group, which has performed in Brazil, Australia, Puerto Rico and across the United States, has a bigger mission than simply performing music, members say.

“Music is an international language,” they add. “It brings people from diverse cultures together. That’s what we’re interested in, using music as an instrument for peacebuilding.”

Other members besides Vanderborgh are violinist Joan Griffing and violist Diane Phoenix-Neal.

Griffith will conduct the performance and has chosen the Symphony in D Minor by the late Romantic composer César Franck. Opening the concert will be “Dawn on the Moscow River” by Modest Mussorgsky.

“This should be a fascinating evening of discovery and a very satisfying musical experience,” Griffith says.

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