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Opus to sing angelic, diabolical

Show to feature Gluck, Vivaldi, Shostakovich

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As music director of the Opus Chamber Orchestra, Douglas Kinney-Frost has always had a fondness for bringing a new perspective to classical music. And Opus' first concert of the new year is certainly no exception.

Called "Heaven and Hell," the concert, which takes place today, Sunday, Jan. 6, at 5 p.m. in the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center (tickets are $25, available at the door), brings together music by Gluck, Vivaldi and Shostakovich in a distinctly original way. "The concert presents angelic and diabolic sounds," Kinney-Frost told the Deseret News. "With the clear emotions in the music and the technical demands it makes on the musicians, this is my favorite program of the season."

The concert opens in the underworld with two of Gluck's best known pieces, the "Dance of the Furies" and the "Dance of the Blessed Spirits," both from his opera "Orfeo ed Euridice."

The concert then takes a decidedly more demonic twist with Shostakovich's somber Chamber Symphony, op. 110A. An arrangement of the composer's String Quartet No. 8, the symphony is a vivid portrayal of the devastating effects of war. "The Chamber Symphony is a reaction to the horrors of World War II," Kinney-Frost explained. "It's a dark, dismal, frenetic work."

After intermission, the Utah Opera Chorus will join Opus for a performance of Vivaldi's "Gloria." "This is the heaven part (of the program)," Kinney-Frost said. "The 'Gloria' is just a fantastic work, and the chorus is looking forward to doing it."

Having the Utah Opera Chorus featured on one of the concerts has quickly become a tradition with Opus. And Kinney-Frost, who is also Utah Opera's chorus master, enjoys the opportunity of working with his group outside of opera. "We get to do something other than operatic repertoire (with Opus). This is all fun stuff for us."

According to Kinney-Frost, the members of the chorus are thrilled with the opportunity as well. "I have choristers come up to me and say, 'Have you thought of doing this or that work?' " And because of this interest, Kinney-Frost has been toying with the idea of presenting a concert with works chosen by the chorus.

Kinney-Frost is also elated that Opus has found a new permanent home in the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. "This has been our biggest change, moving into the center's Jeanne Wagner Theatre."

Even though the 500-seat hall is considerably larger than the orchestra's old venue, Kinney-Frost is confident that they soon will be playing to a full house. "Our subscriptions have been at 50 percent, but I have a good feeling about selling out. And Salt Lake County has been unbelievable in helping us out. They have a great crew."

Kinney-Frost said the acoustics are phenomenal in the Jeanne Wagner Theatre. "The sound is crystal clear. Larry Holt from KUER, who is our sound engineer, calls it 'one sweet hall.' "

E-mail: ereichel@desnews.com