Weekends wreathed in classical music

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photoClark College Orchestra Conductor Don Appert

Upcoming holiday concerts

Handel’s Messiah” – Bravo! Vancouver Chorale and Washington Chamber Orchestra, 2 p.m. Sunday, St. Joseph Catholic Church, 400 S. Andresen Road. Vancouver. Tickets: $25.

“A Season of Wonder” — Northwest New Music Ensemble, 7 p.m. Dec. 8, Trinity Lutheran Church, 309 W. 39th Street, Vancouver. Tickets: $25; Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

Clark College Concert Band and Concert Choir Fall Concert, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, Royal Durst Theatre at the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, 3101 Main St. Donations accepted.

“A Star in the East” — Vancouver USA Singers with Michinobu Iimori on the hammered dulcimer and the JoyBell Ringers Handbell Choir, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and 3 p.m. Dec. 9, First Presbyterian Church, 4300 Main St., Vancouver. Tickets: $12 with children younger than 12 free; Vancouver USA Singers.

Clark College Chorale and Women’s Choral Ensemble Concert, 3 p.m. Dec. 9, Faith Baptist Church, 11208 N.E. Hazel Dell Ave., Vancouver. Donations accepted.

Big Horn Brass with jazz vocalist Shirley Nanette, 7 p.m. Dec. 15, LifePoint Church, 305 N.E. 192nd Ave., Vancouver. Tickets: $25 (students $10); Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

If you go

What: Clark College Orchestra concert.

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5.

Where: Royal Durst Theatre at the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, 3101 Main St.

Cost: Donations accepted.

At the cusp of the holiday season, you can sample a cornucopia of classical music concerts. Some have secular themes, some have religious themes, some are lighthearted and others are depth-charged.

On the secular and serious side is the concert that the Clark College Orchestra will play at the Royal Durst Theatre on Wednesday, Dec. 5. At the core of the concert are two major pieces: the "Double Clarinet Concerto" by Franz Krommer and the Ninth Symphony by Dmitri Shostakovich.

"Krommer is a Czech composer who was a contemporary of Beethoven but wrote in the classical style of Haydn and Mozart," Don Appert, Clark's conductor explained. "One of the soloists, Julius Klein, is coming from Slovakia. He will share the spotlight with the orchestra's principal clarinetist, Larry Greep, and that will be a lot of fun to hear."

When Shostakovich wrote his Ninth Symphony in 1945, the authorities in the Soviet Union expected that it would depict how the USSR overcame the darkness of the Nazis. Instead, Shostakovich uncorked a piece that was deemed too lightweight and joyful. It was banned in 1948 and not played again in the USSR until 1955.

The orchestra will play "In Memory of Marianne" by Vancouver resident Matt Doran. Now in his 90s, Doran was the first student to receive a doctorate in composition from the University of Southern California in the early 1950s. He taught music at Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles for 30 years and has written more than 270 works, including symphonies and operas. He is also noted for having given rocker Frank Zappa his first opportunity to play in a major concert.

Doran wrote "In Memory of Marianne" as a tribute to his daughter, who died of cancer at the age of 46 in 2006.

"It's a poignant, work for full orchestra that is about four minutes long," Appert said. "It will provide a nice balance to Richard Wagner's rousing overture to "The Flying Dutchman."

The Clark College Orchestra consists of 25 music students and 65 musicians from the Vancouver-Portland metro area. They know that Appert will challenge them with unusual programming. In September, Appert received honorable mention in the 2012 American Prize in Orchestral Programming.

"There is no charge, but donations are accepted at the door," Appert said, "and we give a CD of the previous concert to anyone who gives $10 or more. "