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Symphony of the Shores

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Is Symphony of the Shores' programming the way of the future? In an effort to reach a younger crowd, SOS comes up with some of the most unorthodox mixes I know of. Yet as a result its identity is hard to pinpoint. Is it a classical orchestra, a pop group, a big jazz band, or a combination of all of the above? The jury is still out on that, but in terms of playing the ensemble (under the guidance of founder Steven Martyn Zike) has proved to be consistently excellent. There may be some familiar fare at this year's season opener: Copland's Old American Songs and Alberto Ginastera's Variaciones concertantes, in which the first chair of each orchestral section gets a star turn. But the rest of the program, all by baby boomers, is obscure; in fact, two compositions--Glen Buhr's Akasha (1989) and Michael Torke's Ash (1988)--will be receiving their local premieres. Buhr's five-minute piece, whose title is Sanskrit for "sky," is whispery and ethereal; in the 20-minute Ash, Torke fits his driven, rhythmic minimalist sound into a quasi-sonata mold. Music for Strings, written a decade ago by Douglas Lofstrom, now SOS's composer in residence, is a jazzy roundelay in which harp is prominent. The guest vocalists will be soprano Winifred Faix Brown, an ex-Chicagoan who's made a strong reputation in Europe, and baritone Stephen Morscheck, a member of the Lyric Opera's Center for American Artists. Expect top-notch singing from both. Zike, who recently won a prize in the Leopold Stokowski Competition, conducts. Sunday, 7 PM, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 1977 South Campus Dr., Evanston; 708-869-3133.

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