Passion & Longing

October 19 & 20, 2019

Brahms Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80
Sarasate Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20
Barber Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24
Puccini “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Pathétique

One of music’s most extraordinary powers is its capacity to say what words cannot. The Juneau Symphony will take you on a dramatic and emotional journey like no other. From the wistful nostalgia of Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and wry humor of Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture to the searing triumph and despair of Tchaikovsky’s great and final Symphony No. 6, let us transport you to new worlds and lived experiences.  Featuring soprano Jennifer Forni and Youth Solo Competition winner Alexander Yu.

Christopher Koch

Music Director Finalist

Christopher Koch is currently Music Director of the Springfield Regional Opera, Music Director of the Missouri Philharmonic, and co-founder/music director of the Joplin Symphony Orchestra.  He also serves as Executive Director of the Springfield Regional Opera and was formerly music director the the contemporary group Ensemble 21.  He is currently an associate professor of music and Director of Orchestras and Wind Symphony at Drury University. He has appeared as a guest conductor with orchestras across the United States, Australia, and Canada and is nationally active as an early music specialist (recorder) in recital, concerto, and conference performances.  Additionally, he is a fierce advocate for new music and has been privileged to work on projects or commissions with numerous composers including John Corigliano, Steven Stucky, Christopher Rouse, James Mobberley, Jonathan Newman, Nicolas Maw, Angelica Negron, Carlyle Sharpe, and DJ Sparr.  Under his direction, Drury ensembles have toured regionally and performed at multiple state conferences, participated in national composer commission projects, and been recognized nationally by the College Band Director’s Association, the American Prize Competition, and by numerous granting organizations.  He received his Bachelor of Music degrees in flute performance and music education from the Eastman School of Music, Master of Music degrees in flute and orchestral conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music, and the Doctor of Musical Arts in conducting from the University of Washington.  He is also a contributing author for the book series A Composer’s Insight: Thoughts, Analysis, and Commentary on Contemporary Masterpieces for Wind Band (Meredith Music Publications). Dr. Koch resides in Springfield with his wife Danielle and daughter Ella.  

Jennifer Forni


Praised for her “warm, gleaming lyric soprano” voice (Washington Post), American soprano Jennifer Forni is quickly distinguishing herself as a dynamic singer possessing the raw yet luxurious power of a classic full lyric soprano.  Always “attentive to the subtler points of interpretive expression” (The Baltimore Sun), Ms. Forni, while possessing a “fuller lyric sound” (Opera News) has maintained the ability to float stunningly-spun pianissimo above the staff.

Jennifer was granted the Evelyn Puddy Oliver Scholarship to attend the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where she received a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. She continued her studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she received a Master of Opera. During this time, she was personally selected by Marilyn Horne to represent the university in The Song Continues master class series at Carnegie Hall.

Jennifer is a former member of the Portland Opera Studio, where she appeared in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, Monteverdi’s Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, Il Ballo delle Ingrate, and Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel.

Jennifer is equally at home on the concert stage, performing such works as Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony at Carnegie Hall with the New York Choral Society, the Fauré and Rutter Requiems (also at Carnegie Hall) with Mid-America Productions, Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Oregon Mozart Players, and Mahler”s Symphony No. 2 with the Greeley Philharmonic. During her Portland Opera debut recital she was hailed for her performance of Strauss’s legendary work the Vier Letzte Lieder. “She shone spectacularly in Strauss’s Four Last Songs. Brava Ms. Forni.” (Stephen Llewellyn, Portland Opera official blog).

In recent years Jennifer has returned to Portland Opera for such roles as Tatyana in their brand new production of Eugene Onegin, under the direction of Kevin Newbury. She also appeared as Musetta in their production of La Boheme.  Jennifer returns to Portland this summer to sing the Chants d’Auvergne in the Oregon Music Festival.

Alexander Yu

2019 Youth Solo Competition Winner

Alexander Yu, 15, was concert master of the Juneau Student Symphony from 2016 to 2018 and has performed with the Juneau Symphony. This season marks his first solo performance with the Symphony as the 2019 winner of the Senior Division of the Juneau Symphony Youth Solo Competition.

Alex began studying violin at the age of 4 with teacher Mr. Guohua Xia. He joined the Ursa Minor string Ensemble at the age of 7; he also joined the Juneau Student Symphony in 2015 and played with it for three years. He now plays with the advanced ensemble Aurora Strings and the Crimson String Quartet. “As a teacher, I like that Alex is always eager to learn new things and challenge himself,” Mr. Xia said.

As the winner of Junior Youth Solo Competition of 2017, Alex earned the opportunity to play solo with the Juneau Student Symphony, performing Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor — 1 st Movement.

Although violin is his first interest, Alex also plays xylophone and piano. In 2017, Alex was selected as a piano soloist and performed Schubert’s “Military March “ with the Juneau Student Symphony.

He also participated in the 2018 All State Music Festival. This summer Alex was the youngest musician participating in the intensive concerto program at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, which draws performers from around the state.