JSO is back at the Green Room

Column by John Akal
Posted 12/2/19

Two words immediately came to mind when I was researching the details for this column about the Jefferson Symphony Orchestra. “ We’re back!” Usually you say that about a musical group that has …

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JSO is back at the Green Room


Two words immediately came to mind when I was researching the details for this column about the Jefferson Symphony Orchestra. “ We’re back!”

Usually you say that about a musical group that has taken some kind of hiatus from performing entirely. The Eagles 2019 Hotel California Comeback Tour or something like that. But in this case, it wasn’t the Orchestra that disappeared for a while, but rather the venue in which they performed for years.

For decades the Jefferson Symphony was based in Golden and performed at the Green Center on the Colorado School of Mines campus but they were forced to relocate to a church in Wheat Ridge for a while due to the Green Center being remodeled. Well, the good news is that the construction is complete and they are going to be performing their annual Holliday Concert there once again. That’s going to be happening this coming Sunday, December 8, at 3 p.m.

I remember when the Green center was first built. I was just in grade school when it went up, but at the time it was a marvel of modern architecture on the campus. Most of the other buildings there were built somewhere around the time the dinosaurs vanished from the earth. I remember walking home from Golden Junior High with my friends and once in a while we’d go in there and just explore the place. It was like a maze in there. Multiple levels with an auditorium, lecture halls, a ballroom, stage shops, a band room in the basement, dressing rooms, and a bunch of rooms that we never did figure out what they were used for.

To illustrate the point of just how complex the place is, back around 1980 my mother booked the legendary jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie in there for a concert with his quartet. In the middle of the second set, Diz walked off the stage while the other guys in the group were taking solos and playing a section of the song by themselves. The piano player took a solo, then the bass player, then they traded fours with the drummer and then Diz … Diz didn’t come back. So they played another piano solo, the bass player and the drummer played off each other for a while, and finally after about 20 minutes, Diz came back on stage and they finished the tune. He had gone to the bathroom and couldn’t find his way back to the stage. I know this sounds like something out of the movie This Is Spinal Tap, but it happened, I swear! When I say this building is a maze, it truly is. It’s no wonder that it took them a couple of years to renovate.

So now it’s time for the Jefferson Symphony to spread a little holiday cheer. This years program will be featuring guest artists Christie Conover, Soprano and James Baumgardner, Tenor. It’s going to be conducted by Dr. William Morse.

For the first half of the concert they will be presenting Festivities by Peter Boyer. This is a contemporary work that was commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the Eastern Music Festival. It’s a celebratory work with an upbeat and jubilant theme.

That will be followed by The Symphony No. 2 in D-flat major, Opus 30, "Romantic", written by Howard Hanson on commission from Serge Koussevitsky for the 50th anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1930. Ok, now that makes it sound like a 50th anniversary party or something. I think that’s just a coincidence. This piece has 3 movements, the second of which has become known as the “Interlochen Theme” as it is performed regularly as the finale for concerts in that famous location.

The second half of the concert will be filled with loads of Christmas and Holiday favorites and they always encourage the audience to sing along. You will come away from this concert in a really happy mood. Trust me.

Tickets run $25 for Adults, $20 for Seniors, $10 for Students (11-17) and $5 for kids under 11. You can get them at the door or by going to www.jeffsymphony.org. The Green Center is located at 1500 Illinois St. on the Mines campus here in Golden.

John Akal is a well-known jazz artist/drummer and leader of the 20-piece Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. He also is president of John Akal Imaging, professional commercial photography and multi-media production. He can be reached at jaimaging@aol.com


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