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On March 10 and 11 the Hillsdale College Orchestra will open with the “Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture” by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and close with the “Sym­phonic Meta­mor­phosis by Carl Maria von Weber” by 20th century com­poser Paul Hin­demith. Con­certo winners, sopho­mores Anika Top and Viktor Rozsa, will play pieces by Franz Liszt and Edward Elgar.

“Everything’s either from the 19th or 20th century,” said James Holleman, asso­ciate pro­fessor of music and music director for the concert.

Each of the spring orchestra con­certs con­sists of four pieces. Two of them are strictly orchestral, and Holleman selects these. For the March concert, he chose Hindemith’s “Sym­phonic Meta­mor­phisis” and Tchaicovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet,” in part because both works feature an English horn, which the music department bought over the summer.

Beyond the avail­ability of instru­ments, Holleman said there are a number of factors he con­siders when selecting orchestral pieces. The edu­ca­tional growth of orchestra members, bal­anced pro­gramming, enter­tainment value, and chal­lenging the stu­dents, a more dif­ficult task this year.

“We have strong wood­winds, strong brass, strong strings, strong per­cussion. So it’s a very bal­anced orchestra as far as the talent. In past years, we’ve had some sec­tions stronger than others,” Holleman said. “But this year, what’s unique is that they are all equally strong and young. We’re not grad­u­ating — I mean, we’re grad­u­ating seniors — but not the largest amount we’ve ever grad­uated, and we have people waiting in line for their spots. So the health of the orchestra for next year is also going to be very good.”

The other two pieces are chosen by the con­certo winners. Each musician works with his or her teacher during the fall to prepare for the audition in late Jan. Top and Rozsa audi­tioned, respec­tively, “Piano Con­certo No.1 in E-flat Major, S. 124” and “Con­certo for Cello in E Minor, op. 85” and will be playing those pieces for the concert. Both Top and Rozsa had played their pieces in high school — Top for her senior recital, and Rozsa as a junior.

“It’s nice to give pieces a break and then come back to them. You have a greater maturity when it comes to playing it,” said Top, who worked with Hillsdale’s Teacher of Music Brad Blackham while at school and with a teacher from home over the summer and during Christmas break.

Both Top and Rozsa had per­formed only the first move­ments of their pieces in high school. When Rozsa began thinking about audi­tioning for the con­certo com­pe­tition, his music teacher told him he should learn the second, as well.

“He told me, ‘It’s one musical idea, so if you’re going to audition, you should do both of them,’” Rozsa said.

So he did.

“It show­cases the full range of what a cello can do,” Rozsa said. “The first movement is really slow and emo­tional and really dynamic, and then the second movement just gets really fast and sort of furious, a bit, but still in sort of a funny way — it’s hard to describe. It goes through a range of dif­ferent tonal colors.”

Rozsa and Top look forward to the per­for­mance this weekend.

“I’m excited to see how it all sounds,” Top said. “The orchestra just makes [the con­certo] sound so full and vibrant.”

Rozsa antic­i­pates the com­munion music brings.

“I think that music — it’s about sharing it with others. If you’re just holed up in a practice room all the time, it’s not really doing much for people. I think of con­certs as being where the point of music is actually ful­filled.”   

      msweeney@hillsdale.edu