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The Hillsdale College Sym­phony Orchestra will be per­forming their first spring concert March 16 at 8 p.m.  and March 17 at 3 p.m. The concert will include per­for­mances by two of the con­certo winners and the Hillsdale College Chamber Choir.

As is typical with March con­certs, the orchestra is playing more modern pieces.

The orchestra will perform “Prelude to Die Meis­tersinger” by Richard Wagner, “Con­certo No. 2 for Cello and Orchestra” by Dmitri Kabalevsky, fea­turing junior Ellen Roundey on the cello, “Con­certo No. 2 in D Minor for Violin and Orchestra” by Henri Wieni­awski, which will feature junior Ryne Bessmer on the violin, “Two Por­traits” by Bela Bartok, and “New England Triptych” by William Schuman.

“October has Par­ent’s Weekend and May draws the fam­ilies for grad­u­ation, so March is the optimal time to play more diverse com­po­si­tions,” said Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Music James Holleman. “The Bartok, the Schuman both are more obscure modern pieces, and thank­fully the the Kabalevsky also falls into that per­fectly.”

Though many members of the orchestra were ini­tially reluctant to play certain parts of the concert’s non-tra­di­tional reper­toire, Holelman said the ongoing practice and the fruits of their labors have begun to show.

“The 20th century com­posers are hard because their har­monies and melodies are not what we are used to, and the pieces can be very tech­ni­cally involved,” he said. “Espe­cially in the Schuman the dif­fer­ences are visible, as the original com­po­si­tions were so raw, an adaption of William Billy’s colonial music, who could be con­sidered Amer­ica’s first com­poser.”

While the modern music increases the overall chal­lenge of many of the pieces, the choices in the reper­toire allow for more attention to be drawn to less fre­quently fea­tured pieces such as the harp and the violas.

“I really like the pieces, I know that it is more modern than we are used to, but I really like them,” said senior violist Jen­nifer Fran­klund. “I think that they are really beau­tiful and they’re more complex and chal­lenging than we are used to. Also, the viola parts tend to be pretty sim­plistic and I really like having some­thing to practice.”

Senior Jill Buccola, who plays the french horn, noted that this concert fea­tured quite a few places with two harps playing at the same time.

“It’s a weird concert, but I am coming to like even the pieces that I didn’t that much orig­i­nally,” she said. “I am beginning to love the melodies, and the piece with the chamber choir is beginning to seem really cool.”

Senior Kokko Tso is the concert master for this per­for­mance.

“I think the pieces for this concert are inter­esting,” he said. “They are outside of our normal comfort zones. The whole concert seems a bit heavy on the brass and wood­winds, and I think it is really cool the harps get to play more often.”

The Schuman piece in the concert is espe­cially unusual because prior to each movement, the chamber choir will sing the original com­po­sition.

“For the ‘New England Triptych,’ I am going to have the chamber choir sing through the choral set­tings before each movement because each movement is a vari­ation from one of these original set­tings,” Holleman said. “Hearing these helps the lis­tener to under­stand what it is an adaption off of, and it helps to tie it all together and makes sense of it to the audience.”

The first two winners of the Con­certo Com­pe­tition, Roundey and Bessmer, also will perform, accom­panied by the full orchestra.

“Ellen’s con­certo, the Kabalevsky, is awesome! I also have a thing for works of dead Rus­sians, and he is indeed a dead Russian.” Fran­klund said. “I also really like the Wieni­awski con­certo that Ryne is playing because it is very melodic and bom­bastic and patriotic in a way. It is just really fun to play.”

 

 

 

       tsawyer1@hillsdale.edu