The Fort Collins Symphony Presents an Evening of Music Written in Memory of Beloved Teachers, lands, and Those We Have lost to COVID-19

Aaron Jay Kernis, (Richard Bowditch, photographer)

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The Fort Collins Symphony (FCS) will present “Escape to Reflection,” the fourth Signature Concert of the 2022-2023 season, at 7:30 pm on Saturday, March 4, in-person at the Lincoln Center and via live-stream. The performance includes music written in memory of beloved teachers, lands, and those we lost to COVID-19. FCS Music Director Maestro Wes Kenney will lead the orchestra in a concert of music composed by Antonio Vivaldi, Benjamin Britten, Chief “Fela” Sowande, and Grammy Award-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis.

The evening begins with Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto Grosso, Op. 3 No. 11, a bold piece featuring three soloists. Violinist Evan De Long, one of three candidates for the symphony’s open concertmaster position, and two members of the orchestra will be featured.

Chief “Fela” Sowande’s African Suite is a spirited and nostalgic suite of music inspired by West African songs and scenes. The five movements include Nigerian folk tunes and influences of jazz, gospel, and popular music. Written in 1944, it is one of the earliest and most important examples of a composer incorporating African musical styles into a traditional orchestral composition.

Benjamin Britten’s Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge is a tour de force of musical creativity and innovation. Composed in 1937 at the age of 24, this work showcases the young composer’s skill and unique musical voice. Starting with a theme by his teacher, Frank Bridge, Britten creates a series of imaginative and engaging variations that span the gamut of orchestral styles. From the playful opening to the haunting final variation, this work is a triumph of musical artistry and a must-hear for fans of classical music.

The evening concludes with Elegy (for those we lost) by American composer Aaron Jay Kernis. Written at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, it is dedicated “to the families of loved ones who passed away from the coronavirus and to the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who worked so tirelessly to save those loved ones.” Kernis, a Pulitzer Prize recipient and Grammy Award-winning composer, is a professor of composition at Yale.

“The Elegy is a moving testament to those who have not survived to hear it…Aaron achieves that rare but perfect musical arc that takes the listener on a journey through the stages of grief — deep sadness, resignation, despair, and rage, ultimately leading towards hope, sublimation, resolve, acceptance, and finally peace.”  Daniel Hathaway and harpist Yolanda Kondonassis via Cleveland Classical (

Find tickets and learn more about the music and composers featured on “Escape to Reflection” at Tickets are $25-$67 for adults, $10 for children/students, and $25 for live-stream, available at

For educational information about the concert, please:

·  Visit for concert program notes by Dr. Dawn Grapes and Dr. William E. Runyan and other enlightening resources about the concert. Free.

·  Attend Dr. Dawn Grapes’ Composer Talk in person at Old Town Library at noon on Wednesday, March 1.  Free.

·  Experience the FCS at Open Rehearsal in person at 7 pm on Thursday, March 2 at the Lincoln Center. Free.

·  Join Maestro Wes Kenney for his pre-concert lecture, “Maestro’s Musings,” in-person or live stream at 6:30 pm on Saturday, March 4 at the Lincoln Center. With the purchase of concert ticket.

·  Tune into Maestro Kenney’s World of Symphonic Music at 7 pm on Sundays at KRFC 88.9 FM Radio Fort Collins 88.9 FM. Free.

The Fort Collins Symphony’s 2022-2023 Season Sponsors: City of Fort Collins Fort Fund, Colorado Creative Industries, Dr. David and Alison Dennis, Ken Garff Ford Fort Collins, Lyric Theater, National Endowment for the Arts. Dr. Ed Siegel, Dr. Peter Springberg, and Janet Kowall.

Media Sponsors: KRFC 88.9 FM Radio Fort Collins, KUNC 91.5 FM Radio NPR, and North Forty News.

Signature Concert 4 Sponsor: The Friends of the Symphony

Concertmaster Sponsors:  Dr. Ann Yanagi and Dr. Scott Johnston