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April 10, 2014

OU college of fine arts to premier Franz Joseph Haydn’s ‘The Seasons’ on campus

NORMAN — Explore the many stages of life during the University of Oklahoma’s Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts presentation of Franz Joseph Haydn’s “The Seasons” during two performances — 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday — at the Reynolds Performing Arts Center, 560 Parrington Oval.

A compilation of music, song and dance set to Haydn’s classical oratorio, the piece uses the four seasons as a metaphor for life: spring representing birth, summer for youth, autumn for mid-life and winter for the end of life.

“It has made me realize the importance of what we all go through in a lifetime,” Artistic director and conductor Dr. Richard Zielinski said. “We all want to be successful in our endeavors and relationships, but really, they say one is always judged by the good deeds one has done on the earth while they were here and how you helped others and those in need.”

The concert is performed by the OU Symphony Orchestra and Combined Choirs, with the vocal talents of School of Music soloists soprano Donna Mitchell-Cox, tenor Joel Burcham and bass-baritone Mark Billy.

Oklahoma Festival Ballet artistic director Mary Margaret Holt and School of Dance Assistant Professor Ilya Kozadayev choreographed the ballet performed by the Oklahoma Festival Ballet, with special guest artist and alumnus Brett Young. This is the premier of the first ballet set to “The Seasons.”

Zielinski said the piece depicts many aspects of Haydn’s life experiences in Eisenstadt, Austria. Many themes and scenes are demonstrated throughout the performance, including friendship and love, success and hardship, hunting traditions, the annual wine celebration (Heurige) and reaping the rewards of harvest after manual labor.

The libretto, prepared by Haydn, was based on excerpts of Scottish poet James Thomson’s “The Seasons,” published in 1730. Haydn’s “The Seasons” was completed and premiered in 1801.

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