January 26, 2016 at 10:45am

Young Artists, Guest Conductor to lead MDSO performance

Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra

The Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra (MDSO) will continue its 2015-16 performance season on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m. in Kirkland Fine Arts Center.

The performance on Feb. 6 is the first of two guest-conducted concerts featuring one of the finalists for the position of Music Director and Conductor of the MDSO. The guest conductor on Feb. 6 is Dr. Martha Placeres. 

The concert will also feature performances from Millikin student soloists Kyle Johnson (piano), a junior vocal music education major from Hanover Park, Ill.; John Robinson (trombone), a sophomore music performance major from Bloomington, Ill.; and Abigail Karnes (soprano), a senior vocal performance major from Kearney, Mo. The students were named winners of Millikin's annual Concerto/Aria Competition in Oct. 2015. 

The concert will open with Sibelius' "Finlandia." Kyle Johnson will be the featured soloist on Mendelssohn's "Piano Concerto No. 1," while John Robinson will perform on Ferdinand David's "Concertino for Trombone." Abigail Karnes will be the featured soloist on Weber's "Kommt ein schlanker Bursch," Duparc's "L'Invitation au voyage," and Gounod's "Ah! Je veux vivre." Following an intermission, the MDSO will conclude the concert with a performance of Dvořák's "Symphony No. 8."

Martha PlaceresMartha Placeres

Dr. Martha Placeres is currently the orchestra director at Washburn University and performs as a violinist in chamber music in Mexico and the United States.

Originally from Mexico, Dr. Placeres is known for her passion for music and music education. She has a bachelor's degree from the Puebla State Conservatory of Music in violin performance, a master's in music education from the University of Texas at Brownsville, and a doctorate in orchestral conducting from Texas Tech University.

As a music educator advocate, Dr. Placeres created and developed the string and orchestra programs at UT Brownsville and was also involved in bringing string education to the city of Brownsville by creating multiple string projects. A recognized conductor of her generation, Dr. Placeres has been featured with different orchestras in Mexico such as the Puebla State Conservatory of Music Youth Symphony, Puebla State Conservatory of Music Symphony Orchestra, University of Tamaulipas Symphony Orchestra, and Camerata Angelopolitana. Internationally, she has guest conducted the Lustenau Sinfonietta in Austria and the Camerata Angelopolitana on its tour of Italy.

In 2014, Dr. Placeres was appointed executive director of the American Orchestra and Band Conducting Symposium in Puebla, where she teaches orchestral conducting to band and orchestra conductors and students from all major music schools in the region.

Young Artists

Kyle Johnson is a junior in the vocal music education program at Millikin University. Johnson also studies voice with Ann Borders, adjunct faculty member in the Millikin School of Music, and is a baritone in the University Choir. He often serves as accompanist for theatre and cabaret productions. In spring of 2015 he received the Pi Kappa Lambda Certificate of Honor. In addition to his academic and performing interests, Johnson is an active member of professional student organizations including the Millikin Piano Club, the National Association for Music Education, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

John Robinson, a student of Dr. Gary Shaw, Millikin director of bands, is a sophomore trombone performance major. During Robinson's collegiate career, he has played in every premier ensemble at Millikin, including the Millikin Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band I and MDSO. This past summer, he participated in the Southeast Trombone Symposium orchestra excerpt competition and was named a semifinalist. After Millikin, Robinson plans to continue studying trombone in graduate school.

Abigail Karnes is a senior vocal performance major with a theatre minor at Millikin. Karnes has recently appeared as Galatea in Millikin Opera Theatre's production of "Acis and Galatea" and Millikin's Main Stage production of "Puccini One Acts" as Nella in "Gianni Schicchi." She also played French horn in the pit orchestra for Millikin's production of "Cinderella" in 2012, and was the assistant stage manager for Millikin's production of "Sacred/Secular: Cantatas" by J.S. Bach. Karnes is a member of the Millikin University Choir and had the opportunity to travel with the choir to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in the summer of 2014. A student of Dr. Hadi Gibbons, Millikin associate professor of music, she is a Millikin Scovill Award winner and a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Pi Kappa Lambda. After graduating from Millikin, Karnes plans to pursue a master's degree in opera performance.       

The concert will be preceded by a concert preview hosted by guest conductor Martha Placeres from 6:45 to 7:10 p.m. in the Kirkland lecture room. The preview is free to concert ticket holders.  

Tickets are $13-$16.50 and are available through the Kirkland Fine Arts Center Ticket Office by phone at 217.424.6318 or online at kirklandfinearts.com. Kirkland Ticket Office hours are Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. A $2.50 fee will be charged for credit card purchases. This is a per transaction fee, not per ticket, and applies to online and Ticket Office orders.

Concerts of the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and the Symphony Orchestra Guild of Decatur.

Kyle Johnson
Kyle Johnson
John Robinson
John Robinson
Abigail Karnes
Abigail Karnes