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Bijou Orchestra Presents An "Over The Top Finale"

'Revenge Of The Viola' Set for April 18 at The State Theater

April 12, 2009       Leave a Comment
By: Julie McCallum, Entertainment Editor

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'I wanted the final concert of our State Theatre Series to go out in a blaze of musical pyrotechnics,' said, Leo Najar, Bijou Artistic Director

The Bijou Orchestra concludes its sixth concert season with an orchestral spectacular in a show called REVENGE OF THE VIOLA to be presented on Saturday, April 18 at 8:00pm and Sunday, April 19 at 2:00 pm in the State Theatre in Downtown Bay City.

"I wanted the final concert of our State Theatre Series to go out in a blaze of musical pyrotechnics," says Bijou Artistic Director Leo Najar. "We are playing a lot of familiar classics, both old and new, and everything is going to have that special Bijou twist that guarantees a great show for audience and performers alike. I am particularly delighted that we are hosting my long-time friend and colleague Patricia McCarty as our soloist."

McCarty is one of the most prominent violists in the country. Formerly principal violist of the Boston Pops and Associate Principal violist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, she is also a prominent chamber musician, teacher and clinician. A silver medalist at the Geneva Competition, the most prominent competition for violists, she has performed with major orchestras around the country. She has produced a number of recordings and she is also a well-known scholar on the subject of the viola and its repertoire. McCarty will perform the "Hullamzo Balaton" bu Hubay and "Maria," a virtuoso work based on Bernstein's West Side Story which was written for her to perform with the Boston Pops.

"I realize that the viola is not the sort of well-known solo work that the violin or piano represent," points out Najar. "Musicians, on the other hand, not only know the instrument and its repertoire, but they also know the 'viola jokes.' For some reason, the viola is the brunt of humor in the orchestral world."

According to Najar, If you Google trombone jokes, for example, you will get 996 entries. If you do the same with the phrase 'viola jokes.' You get 8,000. Najar said, "In honor of our soloist, and in praise of the Viola (which was also my instrument in college) we are holding a contest for best viola joke. We are encouraging people to email or snail mail their favorite viola joke to us by April 17. A committee made up of Patti McCarty, Mark Mooningham (the Bijou's violist and perhaps coincidentally, Elvis impersonator) along with Dr. Thomas Markus, an amateur violist will select the winner of the contest. We know the prize will include some tickets for our upcoming season, but the rest of the reward is a surprise."

Jokes may be sent to The Bijou Orchestra PO Box 336, Bay City, MI 48707 or sent to

Fiery virtuosity is the order of the day for this concert. In addition to the solo viola works, the orchestra will perform the 'Poet and Peasant Overture,' the Paganini 'Moses Variations' in an orchestration by Leo Najar and Tchaikovsky's "Overture" Really? "The 1812 Overture" With cannons? Sure, why not? You haven't lived until you've heard 13 players do the work of 90 and do it well. Our other "big pieces" include the Tchaikovsky "Fourth Symphony," Beethoven's "Fifth," and our perennial Halloween favorite, "The Ride of the Valkyries."

Concert information is available at Tickets may be purchased in advance at the State Theatre Box Office, 913 Washington Avenue, Bay City, or by phone at (989) 892-2660. Tickets will also be available at the door.

The Bijou Orchestra takes its name from the Bijou Theater, one of the earliest Bay City theaters, which later became known as the Bay and eventually the State. The ensemble is composed of thirteen outstanding musicians drawn from Michigan and beyond to perform in this challenging medium in which every player is a soloist.

The orchestra is supported in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs. Major corporate sponsors include, Dow Corning, Bay Regional Medical Center, OmniSource and Thelen Auto Group.

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