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Hays Symphony crowns free masterworks series with ‘Evocations’

​​​​​​The Hays Symphony will be presenting its Masterworks III Concert on Saturday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center. The

ensemble is under the direction of Dr. Brian Buckstead, Assistant Professor of Violin and Viola at FHSU.

Stir the soul with the Hays Symphony's final free concert of the season, featuring selections from Bizet's Carmen, the Tailleferre Harp Concertino with soloist Erin Wood, and Shostakovich's neoclassical and subversive Symphony No. 9.

The Masterworks III Concert is lined with pieces both striking and sublime. Bizet’s Carmen conjures dramatic infatuation and emotions beyond control through the iconic and mesmerizing “Habanera” and “Toreador” arias. Similarly, Germaine Tailleferre’s work stands boldly as that written by the only female member of her association of French composers known as Les Six. Like the sharp contrast found in Shostakovich’s bombastic Ninth Symphony, their music is often seen as a neoclassic reaction against both the romantic style of Wagner and impressionists like Debussy and Ravel.

In many ways, this final concert, Evocations, offers more than replays of classical favorites. It evokes an image, a history of conflict, in its defiant recollection of feeling and memory. Just as Carmen reflects the political unrest of nineteenth century Europe, Tailleferre’s Harp Concertino and Shostakovich’s Ninth mark different post-war periods with their own tones and temperaments.

At the beginning of the 2022-23 season, Dr. Buckstead shared his reasons for planning out the concert line-up with the masterworks series. “Pops concerts are generally made up of shorter, light classical music and pops style pieces, while masterworks concerts are composed of longer, more serious pieces,” said Buckstead.

As Music Director, Buckstead hopes that concert attendees appreciate his handpicked blend of crowd-pleasing pieces and overlooked works. “I like to program a diverse set of pieces each season, from well-known favorites to rarely heard gems of the orchestral repertoire, often within the same concert,” said Buckstead

Appropriately, the Masterworks III Concert closes out a season of not only timeless classics but also popular music ranging from August’s Outdoor Pops Concert of American Jazz to October’s Disney-themed Children’s Concert. The spring gave spotlight to the student musical talent at Fort Hays State University through its Arias and Concertos Concert. Now, the Hays Symphony invites the community to its rousing season finale of expressive masterpieces by Bizet and Shostakovich.

Like with all Hays Symphony concerts, attendance is free and open to the public. Following the concert, attendees are invited to the hall’s lobby to meet the musicians at the post-concert reception sponsored by Dick and Kay Werth (Auto World) and provided by Cathy’s Breads.

Attendees are encouraged to reserve tickets in advance on the symphony’s website at where they can also make donations to sustain free classical music in the Hays community.

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