Utah Valley Symphony music director Ralph G. Laycock will lead his final concert with the orchestra Wednesday, April 18, at 8 p.m. in the Provo Tabernacle.
Featured on the annual pops program will be members of the singing Thompson-Lee family in a musical salute to Broadway, with styles ranging from jazz to opera.The Thompson-Lee Singers include Janie Thompson, originator of the BYU Program Bureau, Young Ambassadors, and Lamanite Generation; her brothers Bob, John and Sam and sister Carolyn Lee, all natives of Malta, Idaho, and former members of the Tabernacle Choir; and their children and grandchildren.
Earlier Laycock will conduct the orchestra in Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet" Overture, followed by "Nimrod" from Elgar's "Enigma" Variations and the finale of the Beethoven Fifth Symphony. The concert will conclude with a performance of Shostakovich's "Festive" Overture.
The Laycock-Thompson association spans five decades. In 1943, when Laycock and Janie Thompson were students at BYU, she started an all-girl band. Laycock provided expertise in arranging and conducting music for the group and even played bass when a female bass player couldn't be found. He has also created the orchestral arrangements of "You Light Up My Life" and "Families to Match the Mountains." All other arrangements for the family's numbers are by Ben Lee.
Laycock took the reigns of the Utah Valley Symphony in 1978, with a goal to instill more commitment and self-discipline in symphony members "so they could be more independent musically and then could contribute more to the orchestra."
In the 12 years since, the increased commitment and dedication have led to a more sophisticated repertoire and a higher level of performance for the orchestra as a whole, Laycock said. In addition, the past three years capacity audiences for the season's five concerts have spilled over into two performances each for the popular Christmas concert and January youth artists concert.
Until his retirement five years ago, Laycock was director of orchestras at Brigham Young University. He has also conducted the Provo Municipal Band in summer concerts in the park for many years and plans to continue this year.
At 70, he said he feels the need to spend more time with his wife, Lucy, and five daughters and their families. He'd also like to travel, do some arranging and composing, "and get in touch with my instrument again" - the clarinet, which he began at age 5 and has occasionally brought out to play a solo in a community concert.
"I have certainly enjoyed it and I will miss it very much," Laycock said of his tenure with the orchestra. "It's taken a long while to come to a decision to move on."
Tickets for Wednesday's concert are $4 ($3 students/senior) and may be purchased at the door.