- Associated Press - Sunday, October 11, 2015

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - The Minot Symphony Orchestra’s new conductor wants to bring a “new world” to music lovers in Minot.

Efrain Amaya is praised by Kenneth Bowles, music division chair.

“Though one can easily say he is a consummately well-rounded and seasoned musician,” said Bowles, “we here at MSU are impressed that his warmth and affable personality will open many doors for our students and audiences.”

Amaya, a conductor, composer and pianist, is originally from Venezuela, where he began his musical training. He continued his studies in the United States, where he earned two bachelor’s degrees in composition and piano from Indiana University and a master’s degree in orchestra conducting from Rice University, Houston.

He was most recently the founder and conductor of the Pennsylvania-based Point Chamber Orchestra, which he led in concert tour throughout Italy. Prior to that, he was the resident orchestra conductor at Carnegie Mellon University, the Greensburg American Opera and the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted a variety of works, including contemporary music ensembles to youth orchestras.

Amaya said he was drawn to Minot by the opportunities he saw here.

“I saw potential to make the orchestra grow,” he told the Minot Daily News (https://bit.ly/1jcfnTH ).

He is also interested in eventually working with youth in the area, including students at local Indian reservations, who are interested in playing in an orchestra and may not have programs available to them in their local communities. Amaya said there appear to be a number of art and music lovers in the area and there are several organizations devoted to the arts, impressive for a community of Minot’s size.

He and his wife are founders of an organization called Arts Crossing, whose objective is to be an “experimental and experiential space for the creation of interdisciplinary works of art.” One of the Arts Crossing projects is “Constellations,” a chamber opera by Amaya and Susana Amundarain. It is inspired by a period in the life of painter Joan Miro and is in production in Philadelphia. Two performances will be offered there in December.

Amaya’s organization aims to: “embrace all the arts: music in its various forms, visual arts, theatrical arts, dance, writing, film, and derivatives of those,” according to its mission statement. “Education in contemporary art forms, based on the fundamental principles of formal training and creative thinking, is one of the main components of our organization. The educational aspect extends to the production and presentation of performances, making the work available to general audiences, fostering a dialogue that would contribute to the growth of both public and creators. We strongly welcome the concept of openness, and the inquiry of new ideas in the work we are set to create.”

Amaya said Arts Crossing is currently based in Pennsylvania but might eventually find a new base and opportunities for growth in Minot.

The upcoming concert season promises to offer music lovers a wide musical banquet.

The Dec. 10 program will be called “Holiday Pops” and will feature selections from holiday favorites such as “It’s a Wonderful Life,” ”Scrooge” and “Sleigh Ride.”

The Jan. 29 and 30 programs will honor the “Heroes Among Us” and feature selections from Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” and from the William Tell Overture by Rossini, among others.

The March 5 program will have a Southern theme, while the April 23 production will have the theme “From the New World.”

Some of the upcoming concerts will also feature works by Amaya. According to MSU, Amaya’s compositions have been performed at major international festivals from Seattle to his home country of Venezuela. Many of his works as well as his performances as a conductor and pianist can also be found represented on YouTube.

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Information from: Minot Daily News, https://www.minotdailynews.com


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