UNA Pressroom

Una Bands Dedicate Special 'rhapsody' Performance To President

Apr. 12, 2016

Michelle Eubanks, UNA, at media@una.edu, 256.765.4392 or 256.606.2033

By Carole Maynard, UNA Department of Music

FLORENCE, Ala. - The University of North Alabama Bands, directed by Dr. Lloyd Jones and Dr. Tracy Wiggins, will present the annual President's Concert on Friday, April 29, 2016, at 7 p.m. in Norton Auditorium. The performance will be a musical dedication to President Ken Kitts and his wife, Dena, in recognition of their first academic year of service to the university.

"The students have diligently rehearsed and crafted a wonderfully entertaining concert in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Kitts. We are thrilled to have them on campus leading UNA into the future," said Dr. Lloyd Jones, director of bands at UNA.

Included on the program will be the UNA Wind Ensemble, the UNA Symphonic Band, the UNA Studio Jazz Band and the UNA Percussion Ensemble.

The UNA Wind Ensemble, the premier instrumental ensemble within the UNA Bands, will perform the first half of the concert, opening with "Windsprints." As a special musical attraction during the Wind Ensemble performance, UNA music professor Dr. Yi-Min Cai, piano, will take center stage and be featured on George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."

"We are thrilled to have Dr. Cai performing with our students on this epic composition," said Jones. "She is an incredible talent and we are fortunate to have her here at UNA. Her musicality, interpretation and artistry will be delightful to see and hear."

Born in Shanghai, China, Yi-Min Cai began her piano lessons at the age of five. By the age of ten, she was already recognized as a child prodigy, and was chosen to perform in a live telecast from the Great Hall in Beijing. She was admitted to the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing as an elementary student and finished her secondary school there. After her debut, Cai made numerous radio and television appearances in China and won the first prize in the Chinese Piano Music Performance Competition and the Piano Etudes Performance Competition at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.

Cai came to the United States to further her musical education, first as a scholarship student of Edith Kraft at the New School of Music in Philadelphia, and then as a student of Solomon Mikowsky and Donn-Alexandre Feder at the Manhattan School of Music in New York, where she was recipient of the Elva van Gelder Memorial Scholarship. In 1987, she won the first prize in the Abraham and Phyllis Katz Young Musician Competition, sponsored by the Five-Town Music and Art Foundation in New York. She joined the UNA faculty in 1999.

Cai is equally as thrilled to have the opportunity to perform this American classic with the UNA students.

"Our student musicians are fantastic, and I'm looking forward to performing with them," said Cai."Gershwin is one of the greatest 20th-century American composers, and 'Rhapsody in Blue' is quintessentially American. He combined elements of classical music with jazz influences. For this concert, I am performing the original version of the piece, which was written for piano and jazz band. The orchestral version of the piece came later.The fact that we are doing the original composition for piano and jazz band is unique and very exciting."

The second half of the program will open with the Symphonic Band, the largest concert organization on the UNA campus. This 135-member organization will perform the quintessential transcription of John Williams' powerhouse "Star Wars," as well as the "London Tune from County Derry" and "Kirkpatrick Fanfare." Additionally, the traditional "Salute to the Armed Forces" will be included on the program.

Rounding out the second half, the UNA Studio Jazz Band will perform. This 34-member ensemble resembles a studio orchestra and performs everything from Big Band hits to contemporary music to Broadway musicals. Included on the performance will be "Suite from The Music Man," featuring the barbershop quartet The Treble Makers, as well as vocalist Kayla Flannagan; "Flight of the Foo Bird," featuring the many talents of the flutists and clarinetists; the female vocal group The Tritones will be front and center on the ever-popular "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"; and the entire cast will be featured on the Don Ellis tour de force "Open Wide."

"I feel this will be one of the most enjoyable concerts performed by the UNA Bands. The variety is amazing, the preparation is going well and the level of artistry is admirable. I encourage everyone to come out and enjoy the achievement of these fine students," said Dr. Tracy Wiggins, assistant director of bands at UNA.

Tickets are $10 general admission and $5 students, and all military personnel and children 10 and under are free of charge. Tickets are available at una.edu/music, at the Lindsey Theatre Box Office (M-F, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.) and at the door.

For more information, contact Carole Maynard at (256)765-5122 or cmmaynard@una.edu.