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ISU Symphony Orchestra presents Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, April 23

The Illinois State University Symphony Orchestra will present Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 on Sunday, April 23 at 7 p.m. in the ISU Center for the Performing Arts, Concert Hall.

The Shostakovich Symphony premiered in 1953 following the death of Joseph Stalin. The Symphony emphasizes the tragedy, despair, terror, and violence surrounding Stalin and the Stalin Years and closes with a great triumph depicting the end of Stalin’s reign. The Stalin regime had denounced Shostakovich twice and Symphony No. 10 is the composer’s response. Shostakovich was restricted in many ways during this time, including the ability to speak his mind. Within the music, Shostakovich encoded references to his time and place tied within the symphonic tradition. The death of Stalin rehabilitated Shostakovich as a creative artist and his Symphony No. 10 takes its place among one his most popular symphonies, also including his 5th Symphony in response to his first denunciation and his 7th Symphony about the Siege of Leningrad.

Conductor, Glenn Block stated, “This symphony by Shostakovich was the first piece the composer wrote upon the death of Stalin, allowing him to write without governmental sanction, or supervision. It is incredibly dramatic and monumental – in sound and impact.”

A pre-concert lecture lead by Martha Horst, associate professor of music theory and composition and Christine Vargas-Harris, associate professor of history and expert in Russian history, will include discussion on the music as well as the political reign of Stalin as it affected life in Russia from the mid-1930s until his death in 1953.

Sunday’s concert will also feature two pieces performed by this year’s Orchestra Concerto-Aria Competition winners.

Concerto-Aria winner Alexandra Clay, flute

Concerto-Aria winner Alexandra Clay, flute

Alexandra Clay is currently pursuing a master’s degree in flute performance at Illinois State University, where she studies with Kimberly Risinger. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Clay began studying flute at the age of 10. She attended the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University, where she studied with Andrée Martin and received her bachelor’s degree in flute performance.

While pursuing her bachelor’s degree, she was the sole undergraduate woodwind finalist in the school’s Concerto-Aria Competition. In 2015, Clay performed with the Schwob School of Music Wind Ensemble at the Collegiate Band Directors National Association conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Alexandra has received numerous awards including two honorable mentions in the Georgia Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Solo Competition, third place in the Georgia Philharmonic Concerto Competition, and was selected as a performer for the Florida Flute Association Masterclass Competition. In addition, Clay won the Illinois State University Band Concerto Competition in 2016, and in February of 2017, she won the Illinois State University Orchestra Concerto-Aria Competition. Clay also recently placed third in the Mid-South Flute Society Young Artist Competition.

Following completing her master’s degree, Clay plans to pursue a doctorate of musical arts. She would like to teach at a university while performing in regional orchestras.

Concerto-Aria winner Jacob Hilton, tuba

Concerto-Aria winner Jacob Hilton, tuba


Jacob Hilton is currently completing a master’s degree in tuba performance at Illinois State University, where he studies with Andy Rummel. Prior to his time at ISU, Hilton received his bachelor’s degree in music performance from the University of Arkansas, where he studied with Benjamin Pierce. During his time in Arkansas he served as the principal tuba of the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as placing at a regional Tuba Euphonium Conference. Hilton is an active member of the music department at Illinois State, having performed with the ISU Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra, Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble, as well as several chamber ensembles. Hilton was recently offered the tuba position in the Air Force Academy Band in Colorado and will begin performing with them this fall.

For tickets or additional information, contact the College of Fine Arts Box Office, located in the Illinois State University Center for the Performing Arts, open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, at (309) 438-2535, or purchase tickets online by visiting Tickets are $10 general admissions, $8 for faculty and staff, and $6 for students and seniors. Performance parking is available for free in the School Street Parking Deck in spots 250 and above, 400 West Beaufort Street, Normal.