PUBLISHED: 6:01 PM on Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Symphony kicks off statehood celebration
JUNEAU - Alaska is turning 50 years old and everyone is invited to celebrate.

The festivities in Juneau begin this summer at the Juneau Symphony's Celebrating Alaska concerts on June 14 and 15 at the JDHS auditorium.

The Symphony is teaming up with Juneau's Capital City Celebrations committee, the Statehood Celebration Committee, the Alaska Historical Library and the Alaska State Museum to present an evening full of Alaskan pride.

The Juneau Symphony Orchestra will perform two pieces by current Alaskan composer Philip Munger, which are "Pioneer Days Rag" and "Gordon's Last Ride". Munger's works have been performed at venues nationwide including: the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Juilliard Institute, the National Gallery, and the National Cathedral.

"Gordon's Last Ride" is a tribute to Gordon Wright, the longtime conductor of the Fairbanks Symphony and founder of the Arctic Chamber Orchestra which toured worldwide. Wright passed away in 2007.

Also on in the program is the Alaska premiere of Wilson Sawyer's Alaskan Symphony, written in 1945 and performed only twice, both in New York state. A four-movement symphonic work similar in style to Aaron Copland, Sawyer said his Alaskan Symphony was not programmatic but he received thematic inspirations from his study of the climate, topography and history of the then Alaska territory.

The third movement features lyrics from Robert Service's "Spell of the Yukon.," which will be sung by Juneau's David Miller. The text of the poem recounts a gold rush miner who strikes it rich, yet is drawn to return to the northland by its rugged beauty and spirit of freedom.

The final piece on the program is Vaughan Williams' Tuba Concerto featuring soloist, Stephen Young, winner of the 2007 Youth Concerto Competition.

At Sunday's matinee there will be a 50/50 ticket special to celebrate Alaska's 50th birthday; two tickets will be offered for the price of one and season ticket holders may bring a friend for free. More information about the concert program, including the history of each piece, and the composers can be found at the Symphony's website at

KTOO-FM's Rain Country station KRNN will broadcast the performance on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 pm. Listeners from around the world can tune in by visiting KTOO's website at and clicking on the KRNN live stream link.

Performance Information

• Saturday, June 14 at 8:00 pm (Concert Conversation at 7:00 pm) and Sunday, June 15 at 3:00 pm (Concert Conversation at 2:00 pm)

• Held at JDHS Auditorium

• Advanced Tickets are available at Hearthside Books. $20 general admission, $15 student / senior. Prices at the door are $2 more. On June 15 only, tickets are two for the price of one.