The ever-popular Tucson Symphony Orchestra (TSO) String Quartet returns to Academy Village on Monday Oct. 23. For ASA members, this will be a concert with a special twist. The TSO Quartet will be performing the world premiere of “Dream Fugue,” a work composed by Roger Shepard, a resident of The Academy Village and a member of the Arizona Senior Academy (ASA).
The concert begins at 11:30 a.m. and is free and open to the public.
Shepard, who has no formal musical training, likes to improvise. He also has had a life-long fascination with dreams. Forty-five years ago he had a dream in which he heard a a string quartet playing a fugue which he had never heard before. He could not reduce it to paper. It sat in his memory for all these years.
About ten years ago he became acquainted with computer software that would allow him to compose using a keyboard interface that recorded what he played. He has composed many electronic pieces and multi-media works. A year ago he returned to that dream and expanded it to produce “Dream Fugue.” This is his first foray into composition for orchestral instruments. Shepard’s formal training is as a cognitive psychologist, with a B.A degree from Stanford and Ph.D. from Yale. He taught for 35 years at Stanford University before retiring in 1995.
As its name implies, the quartet consists of members of the TSO. David Rife is assistant concert master of the TSO and first violinist of the quartet. Wynne Wong-Rife, a native Tucsonan and violinist in the quartet, is also Assistant Director of the Tucson Junior Strings. The Rifes met at the Eastman School of Music. After graduation from Eastman they attended and graduated from New England Conservatory of Music and moved to Tucson to marry, start a family and continue their careers in music.
Ilona Vukovic-Gay is the TSO Assistant Principal Viola, and violist for the quartet. She is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music and Yale University and has distinguished herself as composer as well as instrumentalist. Each year the TSO’s Kinder Konzerts series feature a musical retelling of a story by local author Susan Lowell, with music composed by Vukovic-Gay.
Mary Beth Tyndall is TSO assistant Principal Cello and cellist for the quartet. She is a graduate of Ball State University and the University of Arizona. She has spent many summers participating in Suzuki teacher training throughout the country. She especially enjoys “hamming it up” in the TSO Kinder Konzerts, collaborating with Vukovic-Gay, Lowell and Michael Fan.
The quartet particularly enjoys performing at Academy Village because the setting is beautiful, acoustics are great, and they love the interaction and sharing with the audience during the requisite Q&A at each concert.
The quartet will also play Franz Schubert’s ”Death and the Maiden.” This piece is thematically based on Schubert song setting of a poem by Matteus Claudius. The poem will be read during the performance. It is about a young girl and death. Vukovic-Gay describes it as “… the height of romanticism, emotional and exciting. It has a surprise ending.“