SDSU Ensembles Present World Premieres at the Balboa Theatre

Tuesday, April 9, 2024
Kalya Aponte playing the trombone with the SDSU Wind Symphony at the Balboa Theatre in Nov. 2023. Photo credit Ken Jacques
Kalya Aponte playing the trombone with the SDSU Wind Symphony at the Balboa Theatre in Nov. 2023. Photo credit Ken Jacques

Five years ago, Kayla Aponte played trombone in the Imperial High School honor band. Now after four years of honing her skills as an undergraduate at the San Diego State University School of Music and Dance, she is earning her Artist Diploma Advanced Certificate.

In an exceptional culmination supported by her request to SDSU's Student Success Fee program, Aponte, along with the SDSU Wind Symphony and Symphony Orchestra, will present The Davis Commissioning Project: Music by Frank Ticheli and Jocelyn Hagen to an audience of over 1,000 at the Balboa Theatre on Friday, April 12, 2024.

SDSU alumnus Marc Davis’s generous donation has greenlit the project! Susana Phillips, soprano of the New York Met will join the Wind Symphony and composer Hagen for the premiere performance of the new work Medusa. Plus, the Wind Symphony will play Frank Ticheli’s new short symphony Fantastic Dreams and Respighi’s Pines of Rome.

Shannon Kitelinger, Professor of Music and Director of Bands who is helping Aponte execute this marquee event, highlighted that playing at the historic Balboa Theatre is the perfect setting to debut these illustrious new works.

“It’d be like if the football team had a big game coming up against USC, and they had to play it at a high school stadium,” Kitelinger shared. “You want it at the Rose Bowl… It’s that type of deal with the Balboa Theatre.”

Aponte has been planning this concert for over a year and Hagen has been composing Medusa specifically for the university’s musicians for two years.

“The piece itself costs tens of thousands of dollars to bring to life,” Dr. Kitelinger said. “To pay the composer, pay the guest artists… when you deal with this level of artist, you want to be sure they are treated like a professional musical organization would treat them, both artistically and financially. 

Ruth Ann Kvamme, a junior performing in the Symphony Orchestra, has noticed the challenges and advantages of working with those already at the highest level.

“If you're playing a piece that's already out there that's famous, you can listen to recordings of it and have an idea of what it's supposed to sound like,” she said. “We've been rehearsing Medusa for a while. But then Jocelyn came in and with Suzanne, listened to us play it, and made tweaks and rearranged things on the spot to make it sound better. It's cool that you're a part of the composition process.”

Kitelinger has noticed this reaction from many students. “The things students are saying about the time that we had with those artists, the rehearsal, workshop, and performance. They're like, ‘It's life-changing,’” he said.

The performance was only possible through the efforts of Aponte, who was voted as a PSFA Outstanding Student last year. Kitelinger credits her idea and successful student success fee application for bringing this performance to life. 

Aponte is an inspiration for many in the School of Music and Dance.

“She's a woman playing a brass instrument, which is less seen,” Kvamme said. “She's the principal trombone in the Wind Symphony and she's in the trombone section of the Symphony Orchestra. Having other females in brass, it's just very empowering for me. And she’s so talented, when she plays her solos I'm always in my seat smiling.”

“She's also mentoring the young, incoming students and that's really special,” Kitelinger added.

Tickets for The Davis Commissioning Project are free and open to the public. Visit the Online Box Office to reserve your seat and learn more about the performance on Friday, April 12.

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