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The Baylor Symphony Orchestra

Those away from Waco in July may have missed the news that the Baylor Symphony Orchestra, led by Baylor Conductor-in-Residence Stephen Heyde, won its fourth consecutive American Prize in Orchestral Performance, college/university orchestra division.

The competition doesn't involve head-to-head playoffs, but recordings submitted to a judging panel. Honestly, I was unaware of the American Prize until the Baylor Symphony won four years ago, although the Midway Orchestra and its conductor Beau Benson also have won or placed in past competitions.

That said, the four-year streak is notable. Unlike professional ensembles, collegiate ones always have turnover as seniors graduate and freshmen (or other underclassmen) rotate in.

Compare the membership of a collegiate group with the same group four years later and I'm guessing there would be a considerable change. Winning the American Prize for four consecutive years is a tribute not only to Baylor's orchestral students but the program that trains them.

Waco audiences will get a chance to hear the BSO live in concert, along with the Baylor Campus  Orchestra, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, when the orchestra plays (for free) at Baylor's Jones Concert Hall. On the program is Sibelius' Symphony No. 5, Stravinsky's Concerto in E-flat major ("Dumbarton Oaks") and Henri Tomasi's "Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra" with saxophonist Cameron Clements, winner of the 2018 Baylor Concerto Competition.

Those who like to do their listening through earplugs or headphones (or stereo systems) can take advantage of CDs released this summer for two Baylor choral groups.

"All The Host Of Heaven," a recording of the A Cappella Choir's 2014 concert in Saint-Etienne-du-Mont church in Paris, has been released on the Acis label.

The concert CD consists in large part of Durufle's "Requiem," performed, as it were, in Durufle's home church. Bookending the requiem are Eriks Esenvalds' "Stars" and Jonathan Dove's "Seek him that maketh the seven stars."

Accompanying the Baylor choir, directed then by Alan Raines, is Baylor organ professor Isabelle Demers. The CD is available through Acis.

Baylor's women's ensemble Bella Voce, led by Lynne Gackle, also has a new CD out, "The Unbroken Circle," released Sept. 7 on Naxos' Affeto Records. The 12-track recording, available on iTunes and Spotify, features songs by Mendelssohn as well as nine contemporary choral composers. 

Those who prefer their choral music live can get a sampling of both Bella Voce and the A Cappella Choir this Friday, Sept. 28, at the School of Music's choral concert for Family Weekend. The concert starts at 5 p.m. in Jones Concert Hall and features seven groups.

Eight singers from Baylor Opera Theatre will perform live the next week for an Oct. 5 First Friday event at Cultivate 7twelve artspace at 712 Austin Ave.

Selections performed between 6 and 8 p.m. include art songs, opera arias and songs from musical theater.

This year's opera, actually two short one-act operas "Trouble in Tahiti" by Leonard Bernstein and "Signor Deluso" by Thomas Pasatieri, will be staged in November rather than the January slot of past years. The two operas take place at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6-7 and 2 p.m. Nov. 11 at Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center.

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