Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony to perform Halloween Pops Concert Thursday


The Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra will perform its annual Pops Concert on Thursday, Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Tickets are $10. Northwestern State University, BPCC@NSU and Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts students are admitted free with a current student I.D.

Dr. Douglas Bakenhus is music director of the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony. Juan Pablo Paternina Paez is the guest conductor. The concert will feature several “ghostly guests” and members of the audience are encouraged to wear costumes to the performance.

The featured musicians will be NSU Professor of Violin Andrej Kurti and Bakenhus. The featured vocalists will be sopranos Juliana Handy, D’ Nissa Hester, Marcy McKee and Terrie Sanders and mezzo-soprano Emily Saldivar of Brownsville, Texas. Handy Hester, McKee and Sanders are members of NSU vocal music faculty. Saldivar is a sophomore vocal music education major from Brownsville, Texas.

The program will be “Also Sprach Zarathusta” from “2001 Space Odyssey” by Richard Strauss, “Concerto in G Minor for Violin and Bassoon” by Vivaldi featuring Kurti and Bakenhus on bassoon, “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” by Edvard Grieg and “Mein Herr Marquis” from “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss.

The orchestra will also perform “Devil’s Dance” from “Witches of Eastwick” by John Williams, “Witches Aria” from “Hansel and Gretel” by Engelbert Humperdinck featuring McKee, “March to the Scaffold” from “Symphonie Fantastigue” by Hector Berlioz, “The Power of Gris-Gris” from “Grande Terre” by Nettie Chenevert featuring Saldivar, “Three Little Maids” from Mikado by Arthur Sullivan featuring McKee, Handy and Sanders, “Hut of Baba Yaga” and “Great Gates of Kiev” from “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Modest Mussorgsky and arranged by Mikhail Tushmalov and “Dance Baccanale” from “Samson and Dalila” by Camille St. Seans.

Handy has landed operatic roles such as Lola in “Gallantry,” Mademoiselle Silberklang in “Der Schauspieldirektor,” Miss Todd in “The Old Maid & The Thief,” and The Queen of the Night in “Die Zauberflote.” She received a Bachelor of Music in Church Music from Louisiana College in 2012 and a Master of Music at NSU in 2017. Handy placed first at the regional National Association of Teachers in singing competition in 2011 and second in 2012. She won the ALSUP Vocal Award at Louisiana College in 2011 and 2012. Handy works as a free-lance singer and sings in churches throughout the state along with presenting recitals.

Hester is a native of Amarillo, Texas. She holds a Bachelor of Music with a concentration in vocal performance and Master of Music with a concentration in vocal performance and choral conducting from Northwestern State. She has continued her education at the Taos Opera Institute under world renowned sopranos Mary Jane Johnson and Linda Poetschke. Hester was selected to attend the International performing Arts Institute in Kiefersfelden, Germany under the instruction of Dr. Maryann Kyle.

In 2010, she became a member of the NSU faculty teaching voice, theory and piano to music and theatre students. She was the Louisiana representative to the regional NATSA conference in 2012. She regularly performs with the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony, the NSU Jazz Orchestra, Wind Symphony and Percussion Ensemble and in faculty recitals and concerts. Hester also performs with the Red River Chorale, the Kisatchie Sound and with her husband in the DAT Acoustic Act, a folk/acoustic duo.

Kurti was born in Belgrade, Serbia, where he began his violin carrier in the studio of Professor Djula Tesenji. He continued his studies in Moscow’s “Tchaikovsky” Conservatory. Kurti finished his graduate studies in the University of Georgia, where he received doctorate degree in violin performance. He joined Northwestern State’s faculty in 2004.
In 2000, Kurti became a recording artist for classical label Blue Griffin Recordings, for which he later recorded “Six Sonatas for Violin Solo by Eugene Ysaÿe, op.27.”

He has appeared as a soloist with many symphony orchestras in the United States, Serbia, Montenegro, Italy, Greece, and Russia. He also appeared as a chamber performer in Spain, France, Latvia, Canada, and South Korea.

McKee received her Doctor of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance at Arizona State University in 2016. McKee has performed as Miss Wingrave in “Owen Wingrave,” Lady Billows in “Albert Herring,” and as both Gertrude and the Witch in “Hansel and Gretel.” McKee made her German debut as Kathi, the yodeling post woman, in “Im Weissen Rössl” with the Mittelsächsisches Theater in Freiberg, Germany. McKee has performed in Italy with Gruppo di Musica Antica in Genoa and as Donna Anna in “Don Giovanni.” Most recently McKee portrayed Mercedes in “Carmen” at the Rome Music Festival.

Saldivar is a sophomore vocal music education major She was selected as a member of the 2017 Texas All-State Treble Choir and 2018 Texas All-State Mixed Choir. Saldivar was named outstanding performer for UIL and the Ovation Award for Worldstrides Onstage in Washington, D.C. Last spring, Saldivar was featured soloist for Richard Burchard’s “The Falling Stars” premiered by the Northwestern Chamber Choir. Next month, she will be a featured soloist and choir member in the Chamber Choir’s performance at the National Collegiate Choral Organization in College Park, Maryland. Aside from being part of multiple ensembles within CAPA, she’s toured the Czech Republic, Austria, and Slovakia with the Chamber Choir to compete against eight internationally recognized choirs. Saldivar is a member of the NSU Opera Theatre and has played lead roles including Hansel in Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel.”

Sanders has been a member of NSU’s faculty since 1992, teaching voice and vocal pedagogy. She holds degrees from Emmanuel College, Lee University and Northwestern State. She also holds a certification with the McClosky Institute of Voice and is a Master Teacher for that organization.  Sanders is currently enrolled as a doctoral student at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Sanders is an active performer and lecturer. As a soloist, some of her Oratorio appearances include Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” Handel’s “Messiah,” Poulenc’s “Gloria,” Brahms’ “German Requiem,” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Requiem,” Haydn’s “Nelson Mass,” Bach’s “Magnificat,” Mozart’s “Requiem,” Vaughn Williams’ “Hodie,” Mendelsohn’s “Elijah” and Honegger’s “King David.” Her opera performances include Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi” and “La Bohѐme,” Menotti’s “The Telephone” and Warren Martin’s “The True Story of Cinderella.”