Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony will open its season on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Dr. Douglas Bakenhus is the musical director. Raul Mangula will be the guest conductor.
The first concert will feature Northwestern State music faculty soprano Dr. Marcy McKee, Bakenhus on bassoon. Dr.Masahito Kuroda on euphonium and Dr. Andrej Kurti on violin.
The 2023-24 season, “Symphony in the Key of Love,” will honor the late arts philanthropist and former Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Society co-founder and former president Jim Bob Key. Each concert will have selections dedicated to Key.After serving as the second president of the Symphony Society in 1968-1969, Key was a lifetime member of its board of directors. He served on the National Council of the Metropolitan Opera and the regional boards of the Shreveport Symphony and Shreveport Opera. He was a member of the Louisiana State Arts Council, which founded the Louisiana Outdoor Drama Association amphitheater located at Grand Ecore. He was inducted in the NSU Creative and Performing Arts Hall of Fame in 2014 and selected a Natchitoches Treasure in 2015.
The program will include “Liturgiques: Liturgique I Annonciation” by Henri Tomasi, the overture to “La Traviata” by Giuseppe Verdi, “Un bel di” from the opera “Madama Butterfly” by Giacomo Puccini featuring McKee, “Enigma Variations: Variation IX Nimrod” by Edward Elgar, “Bassoon Concerto, RV 498 in a minor” by Antinio Vivaldi featuring Bakenhus, “Carnival of Venice” by Jean Baptiste Arban featuring Kuroda and Violin Concerto in E minor by Felix Mendelssohn” featuring Kurti.
Bakenhus has been music director and conductor of the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony at Northwestern State University of Louisiana since 2004, where he also teaches bassoon, aural skills, and advanced conducting. In addition,Bakenhus also serves as music director of the Northeast Texas Symphony since 2003 and was the director of the Austin Philharmonic from 2001-2004. His music degrees are from the University of Texas at Austin (D.M.A., B.M.Ed), Texas A&M University-Commerce (M.M.), and he has completed additional graduate courses in conducting and bassoon-performance at the University of Michigan. His conducting teachers include Larry Rachleff, Gustav Meier, Carl St. Clair, Gary W. Hill, and Elizabeth Green. In addition, Dr. Bakenhus studied conducting and baroque/classical performance practice with Ivars Taurin at the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute (2010 and 2015). Throughout his teaching career, Bakenhus has remained active as a guest conductor and clinician with honor orchestras throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, Furthermore, he has made international conducting appearances with the Comfenalco School Orchestra in Cartegena, Colombia, the Sinfonietta Bratislava in Slovakia, and the San Pedro Sula City Chamber Orchestra in Honduras. He also performed abroad as a bassoonist with the NSU Faculty Woodwind Trio in Canada, Slovakia, England, and the Czech Republic. He remains active on the bassoon, playing in several local orchestras including the Shreveport, Marshall, South Arkansas and Texarkana symphony orchestras and The Baroque Artist of Shreveport,
Kuroda is Professor of Euphonium-Tuba/ Sound Technician/ Coordinator of Media Recording & Streaming at NSU. He holds Bachelor of Music Education degree from Tokyo Gakugei University, Master of Music from Morehead State University, post graduate study at Louisiana State University, Artis Doctor Musica (D.M.A) from National Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Slovak Republic. With a full scholarship from Japanese Ministry of Education, he studied with many renowned low brass teachers in Japan, U.S. and Europe. He has performed with the Camerata Academica Chamber Orchestra in Tokyo, Baton Rouge Symphony, Rapides Symphony, Shreveport Symphony, Shreveport Opera and South Arkansas Symphony. Kuroda has appeared as a guest euphonium soloist/clinician in music institutions in the U.S, Europe, and far east Asia. Most notably, he held the nation’s first euphonium recital/masterclass in Slovak Republic at the Bratislava Conservatory of Music in 2005.
As a chamber artist, he won the third prize in the first International Colonial Euphonium Tuba Quartet Competition and was the finalist to perform in the International Euphonium-Tuba Quartet Competition at the ITEC conference in Lahti, Finland. His article “Fast runs, high notes, and mutes, basic fare for euphonium parts,” was published in The Instrumentalist journal March 2003 issue. Together with NSU Euphonium-Tuba studio students, he explores the new possibility of sound and expression of euphonium-tuba ensemble with rarely utilized low brass instruments such as bass trumpet, marching baritone, double-bell euphonium, valve trombone, and cimbasso with variouutes and electronic enhancement. He is a founding member of British Brass Band Society of Louisiana and has been featured as soloist frequently on euphonium and English baritone horn with the group.
Kurti was born in Belgrade, Serbia, where he began his violin carrier in the studio of professor Djula Tešenji. He continued his studies in Moscow “Tchaikovsky” Conservatory in studios of professors Levon Ambartsumian and Zorya Schikmurzaeva. Kurti finished his graduate studies in the University of Georgia, where he received a doctorate degree in violin performance.
He was a recipient of five first prizes in competitions in Yugoslavia, four first prizes in competitions in Georgia and Florida, and a finalist of the MTNA (Music Teacher National Association) Competition in 1998. In 2000, Kurti became a recording artist for classical label Blue Griffin Recording, for which he later recorded Six Sonatas for Violin Solo by Eugene Ysaye, Op. 27. In 2004, Kurti became a professor of violin at Northwestern State. He appeared as a soloist with many symphony orchestras in the United States, Serbia, Montenegro, Italy, Greece, Russia, France and Colombia. He also appeared as a chamber performer in Spain, France, Latvia, Canada, Colombia and South Korea.
McKee received her Doctor of Musical Arts in 2016 from Arizona State University. She earned her Master of Music and Bachelor of Music from West Texas A&M University. McKee teaches voice, lyric diction, and performance literature at Northwestern State. She has also taught at Bemidji State University, Arizona State University, West Texas A&M University and Central Arizona College.
McKee has sung throughout the United States and has also sung in Austria, Germany and Italy. Most recently, she sang the role of Mercedes in Bizet’s “Carmen” in Rome, Italy. She currently sings with a group promoting the AIDS Quilt Songbook. The ensemble has performed at the International Congress of Voice Teachers in Vienna, Austria, the College Music Society, southern regional conference, National Association of Teachers of Singing, regional conference, and will be performing for World AIDS day on December 1 at the University of Nebraska.