The Ozark Festival Orchestra will open its 30th season on Sunday, Oct. 11 with a performance of a brand new work and repertory favorites. The concert will be at 3 p.m. at Monett City Hall Auditorium, Fifth Street and Bond, one block north of downtown.
Music Director Ken Meisinger, returning for his 11th season, has programmed works epitomizing the diverse orchestral styles of eastern and western Europe and a new piece combining both.
The concert will open with an orchestration of Gustav Holst's "First Suite for Military Band." A lively piece written to raise band music out of the routine, Holst's suite, written in 1909, was an instant favorite with bands and audiences alike.
"Roumanian Folk Dances" by Hungarian composer Bela Bartok will continue the concert. Bartok was one of the first composers to recognize the value of folk music and set out to preserve the songs and dances of people in his country. Traveling from town to town a century ago, carrying a primitive phonograph, Bartok recorded and transcribed the music in Hungary and overlapping territories such as Transylvania.
Fiddle tunes documented by Bartok were rewritten and orchestrated into rich compositions. The "Roumanian Folk Dances" are some of many folk-inspired works Bartok created in this process, full of rhythmic charm and pleasing tunes.
Both pieces lead up to the new work on the program, commissioned especially for the orchestra's 30th anniversary season. "Balkanska Kitka," literally meaning "a bouquet of musical wildflowers from Bulgaria," has been composed for the OFO by former music director David Goza.
Goza has taught orchestra at Drury University and the University of Arkansas and founded the Chamber Orchestra of the Ozarks while in Springfield. He is married to accomplished violinist Rossitza Jekova-Goza, assistant professor of music at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, who is from the Bulgarian town of Sliven.
"One of my favorite places on earth is the Balkan range that runs through my muse's homeland like a backbone," Goza wrote in describing his composition. "I count among my greatest joys the many hours I have spent in those high elevations, enjoying the company of a vast sky, great birds, bright lizards and a bewildering mélange of metamorphic rocks.
"'Balkanska Kitka' is my musical response to that wonderful land," Goza continued. "Its thematic material is borrowed----sometimes pretty much intact----from composed works by Fillip Koutev and Stefan Moutafchiev and traditional songs and dances.
"I am pleased to present it to the Ozark Festival Orchestra in recognition of three decades of enrichment of the cultural life of southwest Missouri and to dedicate it to my friends Ken and Elizabeth Meisinger," Goza concluded.
This will be the first of five concerts in the OFO's season. Admission is $5. Children high school age and younger are admitted free of charge.
The Ozark Festival Orchestra is supported by memberships, local foundations and ad sales in the annual program book. Orchestra members come from across the area for weekly rehearsals and concerts.