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Stravinsky’s "The Firebird Suite" brings a magical bird to life

Concerto-Aria Competition Winners perform with the UofSC Symphony Orchestra on March 26

The Firebird, an orchestral concert work for ballet, by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, was written for the 1910 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes company. Based on the Russian fairy tale of the Firebird, a magical glowing bird from a faraway land is both a blessing and a bringer of doom to its captor. When first performed at the Opéra de Paris on 25 June 1910, the work was an instant success with both audience and critics, and was the first international success of the composer’s career.

Although The Firebird was the work that elevated Stravinsky to international renown, he was offered the commission to compose the ballet for the newly formed Ballets Russes only after several prominent Russian composers had already rejected it. With the premiere quickly approaching, Diaghilev selected the inexperienced Stravinsky, then only 27 years old, on the basis of his early orchestral works. The Firebird ballet has historic significance not only as Stravinsky's breakthrough piece, but also as the beginning of the collaboration between Diaghilev and Stravinsky that would also produce the acclaimed ballets Petrushka and The Rite of Spring.

Each academic year the UofSC School of Music sponsors a Concerto-Aria Competition. Students enrolled and studying applied music on the Columbia campus compete. Winners’ names are engraved on the Concerto-Aria plaque, on permanent display in the School of Music.

The 2018–2019 winners Coleman Wright, alto saxophone; Ben Haimann, marimba; and Sabrina Raber, flute, perform on this concert, which takes place at the Koger Center for the Arts on Tuesday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. They perform Julia Adolphe’s Underneath the Sheen, Jacques Ibert’s Concertino da Camera for Alto Saxophone and 11 Instruments, Kevin Puts’ Marimba Concerto, and Charles Griffes’ Poem for Flute and Orchestra.

Join conductor Scott Weiss at 6:45 p.m. prior to the concert for a pre-concert talk in the Koger lobby.

Tickets on sale

USC Students - free with student ID (must be picked up from the Koger before 5:00 p.m. on the day of the performance). General public - $30; senior citizen/USC faculty and staff - $25; children under 18 and non-USC students with ID - $5. Call 803-251-2222 or Koger Box Office, corner of Greene and Park Streets (M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or online at Discounted tickets must be purchased at the box office.

About the Concerto-Aria Competition Winners   

Hailing from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, Sabrina Raber is a second year graduate student pursuing a master of music performance and community engagement. She received her bachelor of music degree with a focus in arts administration from the Ohio State University, where she graduated summa cum laude. Her principal teachers include Jennifer Parker-Harley and Katherine Borst Jones.

Coleman Wright, from Florence, SC, is a sophomore pursuing a music education degree and a performance certificate and has auditioned into the UofSC Wind Ensemble, the premier wind band at UofSC, every semester. He is an active chamber musician, who has performed and taught in schools and other venues in South Carolina and beyond alongside the Regulus Quartet in which he is the tenor chair. With Regulus, Coleman has commissioned new works for the Saxophone Quartet medium by both local and nationally known composers and has premiered new music at the 2019 North American Saxophone Alliance regional conference and has performed at the 41st International Saxophone symposium hosted at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Ben Haimann, a first year master’s student at UofSC, received degrees in music performance and music education from The Ohio State University. A native of Lombard, Illinois, Ben began his musical studies at age nine playing drum set and taking private percussion lessons. During the summers of 2014 and 2015, he served as the teaching assistant and counselor for the Instrumental music program at The North Carolina Governor’s School East where he coached the percussion ensemble and spent time conducting the wind ensemble. In 2016 and 2017 he was the front ensemble instructor with the Grove City High School Marching Band, including a trip to the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. While at Ohio State, he was awarded the prestigious Presser Foundation Scholarship. Ben is a graduate assistant and serves as the percussionist for the Spark Collective, a graduate quintet focusing on community engagement through music. He has collaborated with many professionals in the percussion field including Susan Powell, Joseph Krygier, Scott Herring, Maria Finkelmeier, Keith Aleo, and founding member of Nexus, Bill Cahn. Ben’s primary percussion teachers include Scott Herring, Susan Powell, Joseph Krygier, and Mark Botti.

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