Barton College/Wilson Symphony to Feature Organ Concerto

WILSON, N.C. – The Barton College/Wilson Symphony Orchestra will present its Spring Concert on Sunday May 3, at 3 p.m., in Howard Chapel on the Barton College campus.  The orchestra, under the direction of Mark N. Peterson, will feature Barton College professor Phillip J. Valera performing George Frederic Handel’s sprightly Concerto in F Major for Organ and Orchestra, Op.4 No.5.

Valera is the assistant professor of audio recording technology in the Department of Communication and Performing Arts at Barton College and the music director of St. Timothy’s Church in Wilson.  Prior to moving to Wilson, he worked as an instructor of recording technology at the University of Arkansas in Pine Bluff.  He also held the positions of organist at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Lakeland, Fla., and music director for St. David’s Episcopal Church in Lakeland.

Valera has performed numerous organ recitals in Florida, Arkansas, and in his native Massachusetts.  In 2006, he performed a concert at St. Timothy’s Church entirely comprised of his own arrangements and compositions for electronic music and organ.

He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in organ performance from Boston University where he studied organ under Jack Fisher and Max Miller.  In 1998, Valera was an award-winning graduate from the Audio Recording Technology program at Full Sail Real World Education in Winter Park, Fla., from which he embarked on a second career that combines his love of music and music technology.

Handel was best known in his lifetime as a composer of operas and oratorios.  In order to fill the time between the scenes and acts of these dramatic productions, he would frequently perform movements from his wonderful concertos for organ and orchestra.  Handel was one of the first composers to use the organ in this manner, and these works were often adaptations of concertos and sonatas he wrote for other instruments.  The concerto to be presented at the spring concert will be familiar to many as an often-performed flute sonata.  Because of their lively, tuneful nature, these pieces became quite popular, and served to draw English organ music away from the solemn style of previous generations.  Because of Handel’s influence, English composers began writing voluntaries and other organ works that were much livelier, often longer, and increasingly secularized.

The orchestra will also be performing Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance March” No. 4 and Mozart’s brilliant Symphony No. 40 in G minor.

Sir Edward Elgar wrote a series of six “Pomp and Circumstance” marches. The first four, composed between 1901 and 1907, helped to firmly establish his reputation as the preeminent English composer of his generation. Marches No.5 and No.6 were created much later with No.6 being assembled from sketches after the composer’s death. The title is taken from Shakespeare’s “Othello,” Act III, Scene iii, which reads, “Farewell the neighing steed, and the shrill trump, The spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife, The Royal banner, and all quality, Pride, Pomp, and Circumstance of glorious war!”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor is undeniably one of the most familiar and beloved works in the entire symphonic repertoire.  This popularity is a result of the immediately captivating nature of the melodies that fill every movement, the restrained romanticism of the first movement, and the astounding chromatic harmonies that foreshadow music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  All of these elements coalesce within a concise form, which is perfectly in keeping with the symphonic style of the late 18th century.  Mozart wrote his final three symphonies (No.39, No. 40, and No. 41) during an eight-week period in the summer of 1788, and these works stand among the great pillars of western art.

Following the concert, the audience is cordially invited to meet the musicians at a reception in the Barton Art Galleries hosted by ARAMARK Higher Education. Admission for the orchestra performance will be $10 at the door or by season ticket. All students within the community will be admitted free of charge as well as faculty, staff, and students of Barton College.

For additional information about the concert, please contact Lynn Medlin at 252-399-6309 or email:


Questions?  Please contact Kathy Daughety, director of public relations, at 252-399-6529 or email: