Three music faculty will be highlighted in Thursday’s BJU Symphony Orchestra concert. “Revolutionary Romantics,” beginning at 7 p.m. in Rodeheaver Auditorium, features the ground-breaking works of Camille Saint-Saëns, Franz Liszt and BJU’s David Janssen. The concert will be streamed at music.bju.edu/live.
The performance will open with the premiere of a composition written by music theory and composition faculty member David Janssen. “Wilderness Overture” was inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic. “I wanted the piece to address the underlying fears and pain that this world event had brought and frame it from the vantage point of the Kingdom of God,” Janssen said. “Like my other works, the heroic arrival at the end is best understood to refer to the return of Christ and the rescue that He brings.” Though the inspiration and the writing process of “Wilderness Overture” were difficult — he wrote most of it during this academic year — Janssen said, “The most rewarding part will be having it performed by my students.”
The second composer will seem familiar to the BJU community. BJU’s Concert, Opera & Drama Series recently featured Saint-Saëns in the opera Samson et Delila — not surprising since 2021 marked the 100th anniversary of his death. “Saint-Saëns is not so revolutionary as the (concert’s) title might suggest. In terms of his musical compositional style, he’s somewhat conservative,” said Dr. Michael Moore, director of the BJU Symphony Orchestra. “But he was the first composer to write a soundtrack for film that we know of.” His Suite for Cello and Orchestra, Opus 19b — performed by Dr. Yuriy Leonovich — is a sampling of Saint-Saëns’ compositional styles from his early and late periods. BJU’s April 28 performance is likely the U.S. premiere of the full suite.
In their first performance as soloist and conductor, the Drs. Moore will close the concert. Dr. Deanna Moore will perform Piano Concerto No. 1 by Franz Liszt — the first pianist to perform solo concerts.
“It does feel a little different from working with another soloist,” said Michael. “It’s a special emotional connection that I have to set aside in the moment, if that’s even possible.”
Said Deanna, “Having my husband as the conductor sets me at ease as the soloist, but also I feel a nice freedom to be able to communicate with him, whether it’s through the keyboard or just visually. He sets me at ease.”
Michael’s goal for the students is to gain the experience of performing with their instructors. “It’s an opportunity for our students to collaborate with our artist faculty. … It’s a pretty special thing to be able to play with faculty members.”