Hillsdale College Symphony Orchestra to perform led Director of Orchestras and Choirs James Holleman.

The Hillsdale College Symphony Orchestra opens its 67th season this weekend with a diverse repertoire featuring works from the 19th and 20th centuries, highlighted by Felix Mendelssohn’s “Symphony No. 5 in D major,” also known as the “Reformation” symphony.

The Orchestra will perform on Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in Markel Auditorium. Tickets are free, but Saturday’s concert is already sold out. 

Mendelssohn wrote “Symphony No. 5” for the tricentennial celebration of the Reformation, and it includes a “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” a hymn by Martin Luther sometimes called the battle hymn of the Reformation. This piece’s performance coincides with the Reformation’s 500th anniversary on Oct. 31, which was not accidental, according to Director of Orchestras and Choirs James Holleman.

“I had planned to do this piece about two years ago, and when Derek Stauff, our music history professor, mentioned that the 500th year was not far out I decided to save it for then,” Holleman said. “It’s a beautiful piece. It’s challenging to our orchestra and the instrumentation lets all the voices have an important role.” 

The orchestra will also perform Gioachino Rossini’s “Overture to Guillaume Tell,” Charles Ives’s “Variations on ‘America,’” and Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24.” 

Holleman said Rossini’s “Overture” highlights the hard work of the the mature cello section.

“Our seniors have been the leaders of that section since their sophomore year,” Holleman said. “So I’m looking for literature that features them.”

Concert goers can stick around after the performance on Saturday for the Jazz Afterglow, which will be the Big Band’s first performance of the semester in McNamara Hall.