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Lamar Civic Orchestra goes Gershwin with ‘Memorable Music’

Debra GreschnerAudience members will hear something they know and love at the Lamar Civic Orchestra’s “Memorable Music” concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 19. Familiar tunes from George Gershwin and from Frank Loesser’s musical “Guys and Dolls” will be the order of the night when the LCO takes the stage at its annual spring concert in the Performing Arts Center at Lamar State College - Port Arthur.

The concert, under the general direction of Kurt Gilman, associate professor of music and coordinator of the strings program at Lamar, opens with a performance of Franz von Suppe’s “Light Cavalry Overture,” which premiered in Vienna, Austria, in 1866.

“The overture is among Suppe’s best known works, and a staple in the repertoire of many orchestras,” said Gilman. “The themes are often quoted in various media, especially the brilliant trumpet fanfare from the opening, and the galloping theme that propels the work to its rousing finale.”

The concert will also feature a guest soprano, Lamar voice instructor Debra Greschner.

Greschner has appeared as soloist with the Nevada Symphony, the Symphony of Southeast Texas, Chamber Music Southwest and the Las Vegas Symphony. Her repertoire ranges from contemporary works to cabaret and from opera and music theatre (including lead roles in “Hansel and Gretel,” “The Mikado,” “Patience” and “Oklahoma!”) to oratorio (including “Messiah” and “Saul”).

Greschner will sing a variety of Broadway tunes by George Gershwin, with lyrics by his brother Ira, including “I Got Rhythm” and “By Strauss.” She will also perform “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” a song written for the movie “Damsel in Distress,” but probably more familiar to audience members from the CBS sitcom “Cybill.” Greschner will also sing a Gershwin “love” medley, which includes “Love Walked In,” “Somebody Loves Me” and “The Man I Love.”

The Lamar Civic Orchestra will then perform selections from the musical “Guys and Dolls,” written in 1950 by Frank Loesser. It was made into a 1955 movie starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine.

The final work on the program will be the orchestral score from the 1952 television documentary “Victory at Sea,” composed by Richard Rogers and Robert Russell Bennett. The documentary showed World War II battle footage including the Battle of the North Atlantic, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway.

“I think this is going to be a very popular piece,” said Gilman, “because ‘Victory at Sea’ was a rousing success that enjoyed a ten-year syndication and a loyal and dedicated audience.”

The Lamar Civic Orchestra is a full symphony orchestra, organized by Gilman in 2008 to provide an opportunity for trained musicians from all walks of life to perform together and enrich the community. The orchestra’s members include undergraduate and graduate students at Lamar, the Texas Academy of Leadership in the Humanities, Lamar faculty and staff, area music educators, and Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana musicians from a number of different professions.

Admission to the concert is free. The performance will be at the Performing Arts Center on the campus of Lamar State College - Port Arthur, located at 1500 Procter Street in Port Arthur.

For more information on the Lamar Civic Orchestra or the upcoming concert, visit lamar.edu/music or call (409) 880-8077.