LSO season commences

Jess Vogt

Saturday evening, the Lawrence community can look forward to an outstanding start to an ambitious season of the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra.
In a concert of celebratory 20th-century pieces, conductor David Becker aims to expose musicians to great orchestral works and to expand their knowledge of classical repertoire.
“It’s about what prepares them for the real world of orchestral performance,” said Becker. “And also just an entertaining concert for the audience.”
Saturday’s concert kicks off with LSO’s rendition of Leonard Bernstein’s “Overture to Candide.”
A raucous, upbeat work, “Candide” has been performed by the New York Philharmonic several times, including without a conductor at the memorial service to its composer.
“It’s a canon in the major orchestral repertoire and a real showoff piece,” says Becker, adding that he hopes it will display the full talent of the 94-member LSO.
Another highlight in the concert will be a new version of John Musto’s “Dove Sta Amore” for soprano and orchestra, originally composed for piano and soprano vocalist.
Faculty soprano Patrice Michaels, who just recently finished recording the series of songs with piano, will join the orchestra for this work.
This will be the second time this work has ever been performed by orchestra, and its premier performance in Wisconsin.
“What’s so outstanding about these songs is the connection between the words, text and the music,” commented Becker.
Based on five poems by Carl Sandburg, the work paints deeply descriptive pictures. “What he’s talking about with words you can hear in the music.”
The final piece on the program for Saturday is Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes” by Carl Maria von Weber. This piece offers a unique opportunity for the audience to hear every section of the orchestra showcased.
“They all get a change to take the front stage,” says Becker.
Amelia Perron elaborated on the character of the piece. “The Hindemith is actually based on these children’s songs and it’s written in a Neo-Baroque style, with some of Bach’s techniques but with 20th-century harmonic ideas,” said the sophomore.
“So you get these really quirky places where one minute you’ll have this riotous brass foray into jazz, and then all of a sudden the woodwinds come in with this fugue thing.”
It is also a personal favorite of LSO concertmistress Burcu G”ker. A native of Turkey, G”ker connects with the composer of “Symphonic Metamorphosis” because Hindemith visited Turkey in the 1930s, composing and teaching music there.
“He traveled all over and was inspired by all different styles,” G”ker says.
“It’s a challenge for the beginning of the season,” says Becker.
Later in the year, audiences can look forward to Poulenc’s “Concerto for Two Pianos in D Minor” with faculty Michael Kim and Kyung Kim on piano, and works by Puccini, Mozart and Mendelssohn.
The season culminates in a spring performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto Opus 35 in D Major,” featuring new conservatory faculty violinist Wen-Lei Gu.
Such and ambitious program is challenging for the LSO.
“But every piece of music is challenging for an orchestra,” comments G”ker. “It can be musically simple, but it still is challenging. Each piece is difficult for a different reason.”
Becker says that the demanding repertoire is a tribute to his students.
“When you look at the season and see major composers, it’s the biggest compliment I can give to them. It is a major challenge, and I’m totally convinced they can meet that challenge.