By Jesse Bertel

The Arizona State University (ASU) Symphony Orchestra is set to captivate audiences under the baton of conductor Jamal Duncan. Presented by the Yavapai Symphony Association (YSA), the concert titled “Musical Masquerade” is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11, at the Jim & Linda Lee Performing Arts Center, 1100 E. Sheldon St., Prescott.

A favorite among patrons, Duncan will lead the ASU Symphony Orchestra in an exquisite musical journey. The program includes Anna Clyne’s Masquerade, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, featuring Moyi Liu as the piano soloist, and Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations. This performance promises to showcase the orchestra’s prowess and the youthful energy of its performers as they interpret significant works from the orchestral canon.

Duncan spoke with Across the Street ahead of the upcoming concert. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What can you tell me about piano soloist Moyi Liu?

He is a current graduate student at ASU. Every year we have a concerto competition where they advance through several rounds. They compete for the opportunity to perform with the symphony orchestra and Moyi was one of the winners from last year. So, he gets an opportunity to play his piece with the orchestra. Currently, he is a doctoral student in piano performance.

What is your favorite part of this performance?

I think the way the pieces work together as a whole is really worthwhile. I’m not conducting the Rachmaninoff Paganini piece but being able to watch one of our students perform at such a high level, obviously by going through all of the rounds to win the concerto competition, is a point that I’m really looking forward to. I think that’s something that’s probably one of my favorite aspects, just seeing the students who are working at such a high level.

There will be three different conductors on this concert. Kara Piatt is going to conduct the Anna Clyne piece. She is a current doctoral student in orchestral conducting. Sergio Freeman is going to be conducting the Rachmaninoff Paganini, and I’m going to be conducting the Elgar variations on an original theme, the Enigma Variations.

What is the biggest challenge in conducting this performance?

I think with all of the pieces, it’s getting the students, you know, the orchestra is about 80 members, and it’s getting everybody on the same page to bring all of their music together. The Elgar and the Rachmaninoff are each about 25 to 30 minutes long. So, there’s an issue of endurance and pacing.

As far as the conductor, our role is to bring all of these individual parts together to be able to showcase a fully realized version of the composer’s desired intent.

Tickets are available only by calling the YSA office, at 928-776-4255.

Jesse Bertel is a reporter/videographer for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Facebook @ JesseBertel, email him at, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2043.

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