The University’s Orchestra presents Senior Concerto Concert

Clare Merante, Contributing Writer

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The University Orchestra, conducted by Associate Professor of Music Christopher Para, performed on Feb. 23 at the Weis Center for the Performing Arts.

“It felt very odd at first. It was the same songs we had played over and over, but now it was time. You’d look around but you couldn’t really see past the stage — everything else was pitch black compared to the stage lights. It felt like, for a moment, there was nothing but a stage and all that mattered was the music,” performer David Williams ’20 said.

 

This program featured two musicians, Reed Evans ’20 and Rachel Guen ’19, who had both won the Senior Concerto Competition. “It’s going to be a delight to hear our seniors,” Para said, prior to the show.

 

The first piece performed was “Overture in G Minor” by Anton Bruckner. Para stated that Bruckner is known for many monumental pieces. However, this was one of his early compositions and therefore did not contain some of the orchestral grandness that Bruckner was known for. “The work displays this delightful sonata with beautiful organization and classical light lines and imitation in the orchestra that is almost reminiscent of Bach,” Para said.

 

The second piece was “Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 73.” This work, composed in 1811, cemented Carl Maria von Weber’s title as the Father of German Opera because of the operatic and dramatic first movement. “It is a marvelous concerto well-loved by audience and clarinetists,” Para said.

 

Clarinet soloist Evans performed the musical. “Performing a solo with an orchestra is an opportunity as rare as it is wonderful for musicians. Getting to play the Weber with full accompaniment let me experience this music I’d known for so long in a new way. I’m very grateful to the orchestra and Professor Christopher Para for this performance,”  Evans said.

 

“I was really impressed by the clarinetist’s performance. It was clear that a lot of time and effort went into learning that piece and I certainly enjoyed listening to it,” Melissa Tjong ’21 said.

 

“Hungarian Dance No. 6 in D Major” by Johannes Brahms was also performed. Para explained how it was an opportunity for the orchestra to “show their mettle in being able to follow the conductor. Conductors are notorious for having fun with this; they really have no idea what I am going to do. However, the one thing you can expect is fun.”

 

The fourth piece, featuring soloist Guen, was “Romance for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 11” by Antonin Dvorak. Written in 1877, this piece has an intense backstory as it was inspired by Dvorak’s suffering through the loss of his three children. Dvorak transformed his suffering into a hauntingly beautiful tune. Para acknowledged that “a great artist takes the pain that life brings and turns it into beauty. Dvorak did that.”

 

“It was an amazing learning experience to practice and perform with the orchestra, and I was really excited to share this lovely piece! I felt like the piece really came to life when I played with the orchestra, and I loved every moment of it!” Guen said. Morgan McCann ’21 described both Guen’s and Evan’s performance as “incredible.”

 

The fifth and final piece, “Petit duite de concert, Op. 11,” contained four smaller movements within it: Le caprice de Nannette, Demande et résponse, Un sonnet d’amour, and La tarantelle frétillante. This is a musical piece that requires a high level of technical skill to perform well.

 

The audience gave a standing ovation at the end of the concert. “The Orchestra sounded beautiful. They always sound professional and their ability to change styles between pieces so quickly amazes me,” McCann said.

 

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