Arthur Shaw will conduct “Carmina Burana” in a concert featuring soloists Lindsey Cafferky, Benjamin Harris and Andrew Brock. It will be the final show of the Roge Valley Symphony Orchestra’s season, and Shaw’s last. - Jamie Lusch

RVSO presents 'Carmina Burana'

After 22 seasons at the helm of the Rogue Valley Symphony, Music Director Arthur Shaw will say good-bye to the orchestra and its patrons Saturday and Sunday in Medford.

The two concerts will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 25, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 26, at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central Ave.

There will be no performances in Ashland or Grants Pass.

In the final concert series of the RVSO's 41st season, Shaw will conduct "Carmina Burana," by German composer Carl Orff (1895-1982), as the orchestra shares the stage with the Rogue Valley Chorale.

Soprano Lindsey Cafferky of Portland, baritone Benjamin Harris of Seattle and tenor Andrew Brock of Medford are the featured soloists.

Shaw plans a brief talk, "Beyond the Score," on the ambitious "Carmina Burana," which is scored for a full orchestra, six percussionists, two pianos, an adult chorus, a youth choir and several solo vocalists.

"I've been wanting to do it for a long time," Shaw says. "A year-and-a-half ago Lynn Sjolund and I talked, and the timing seemed right. It's been done here before, but not with a symphony orchestra."

Orff composed the scenic cantata between 1935 and 1936 in Germany. It is based on 24 of the poems found in the medieval manuscript of the same name. The best-known movement is "O Fortuna," which opens and closes the piece.

Shaw says he's attracted by the piece's high energy and its sweet, simple melodies.

"He was before Minimalism, and yet there's a lot of it in there," he says. "I love the driving rhythm of the percussion section "¦ like wild animals "¦ "

And then there's the classic theme "O Fortuna" with the massive sound of the chorus. Shaw joked that he has the best seat in the house.

Orff wrote the piece while the Nazis ruled Germany, but Shaw doesn't think that means the music is tainted.

"To me it's never had anything to do with politics," he says.

Orff considered "Carmina Burana" his greatest musical achievement. "Everything I have written to date," he wrote to his publisher following its completion, "can be destroyed. With Carmina Burana, my collected works begin."

Inspired by a collection of medieval poems, Orff's 1935 secular cantata covers a range of timeless topics, including the capricious nature of fortune. The basis of the piece is the medieval idea of the turning wheel of fortune — joy turning to bitterness, hope turning to grief, the wheel forever turning.

Sharing the stage with the orchestra will be the Rogue Valley Chorale under the direction of Lynn Sjolund.

Soprano Lindsey Cafferky, a native of Portland who received her Master of Music from the University of Michigan, will be returning to the Rogue Valley after her role last year in Rogue Opera's "The Merry Wives of Windsor."

Baritone Benjamin Harris of Seattle is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University, where he recently performed "Carmina Burana" with the PLU Symphony Orchestra.

Tenor Andrew Brock earned voice and music education degrees from the University of Oregon. He teaches music at Talent Elementary School and is an adjunct professor of music at Southern Oregon University. He has performed previously with the Rogue Valley Symphony, the Eugene Symphony, the Eugene Opera and the Rogue Opera.

Shaw says the program will begin with a short work that's very special to him — but he's keeping its identity secret until the show. He says only that it's about 10 minutes long, gorgeous and that he's wanted to play it for some time.

Pat Daly, former music director for Jefferson Public Radio, will give a free pre-concert talk one hour before each show.

Tickets are $33 premium, $26 general, and $5 for students. All seats are reserved.

For tickets call the symphony box office at 552-6398, open in the music building of SOU from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday-Friday. See rvsymphony.org for details.

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