“I envy the audience being able to hear it all for the first time,” freshman violinist Victoria Nunez said of Shostakovich Symphony No. 5.
The audience will have that chance this Saturday and Sunday as the Hillsdale College Symphony Orchestra will be performing it in the Markel Auditorium. Saturday’s performance will be at 8 p.m., and the Sunday performance begins at 3 p.m.
Russian composer and pianist Dmitri Shostakovich composed his Symphony No. 5 in 1937, and it was first performed on Nov. 21 of that year. The piece has four movements: Moderato, Allegretto, Largo, and Allegro Non Troppo, and it will be performed by 75 orchestra members.
Professor and Music Department Chairman James Holleman called this piece a “monumental work.”
“There’s a lot of historical research done on this piece. There’s a lot of back and forth on what he meant,” Holleman said. “It’s been interesting for us to study and undertake. It’s difficult, but an amazing piece of music. It’s intense, melancholy and lyric.”
Nunez said the orchestra members have been rehearsing for two hours a day, twice a week this semester, which doesn’t include the time the musicians practice on their own.
Nunez said she is most looking forward to the fourth movement.
“It starts with a mighty rumble, and I sit right in front of the drums. This means I get to experience the soundwaves in such a physical way. My insides literally shake when the drums are at their loudest,” she said.
Three of the top five finishers at the 2019 Annual Student Concerto Aria Competition in the beginning of the semester will perform solos this weekend as well. The solo performances will occur before the symphony and will last about 30 minutes, and the symphony will be about 40 minutes, according to Holleman. The other two finishers will perform during the second symphony orchestra in May.
Sophomore David Forman will perform Walton’s Concerto for Viola and Orchestra on the viola, sophomore Zsanna Bodor will play Mozart’s “Una donna a quindici anni” from “Cosi Fan Tutte” on the soprano, and senior violinist Joshua Brown perform Tchaikovsky’s Concerto for Violin in D minor, op. 35.
“The initial critical response was negative, with one critic saying the violin was ‘beaten black and blue,’” Brown said of Tchaikovsky’s piece. “Today, however, it is one of the best known and loved pieces in the violin repertoire. I’ve wanted to play it for as long as I can remember, so this opportunity to perform it with the orchestra is a dream come true.”
Nunez said she enjoys the piece because of its narrative beauty.
“When you participate in the orchestra, you get to listen to the many strains of music move around you as different sections hand off different parts of the melody or harmony to each other,” Nunez said. “Listening to a symphony from start to finish is like examining a rich tapestry: every color has a shape, a destination, and a part to play.”
After Saturday’s performance, the Hillsdale College Jazz Combo, Primary Colors, will be performing in the McNamara Rehearsal Hall in the Howard Music Building.
“There will be a dance floor and refreshments,” Holleman said. “People can talk to the orchestra members, listen to jazz, and dance. It’s just a fun event we do after the Saturday concert.”
Tickets can be reserved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 517 – 607-2848.