On Saturday, Oct. 5, the Lawrence University Conservatory presented the fourth incarnation of Kaleidoscope, a 75 minute, 300 student, 14 ensemble musical extravaganza. Kaleidoscope is performed every other year at the Fox Valley Performing Arts Center but was unfortunately cancelled last year due to conflicting dates with the visiting musical “War Horse.” The center was unsurprisingly packed, just as it was the last time the concert was performed in the fall of 2010. The performance itself is an extremely fast paced sampling of a variety of different musical departments within the Conservatory and, contrary to normal concert etiquette, applause is not allowed between performances.
Sambistas began the night with a bang, literally, as they descended through the audience to the stage, chanting the piece “Brazilian Batucada.” This loud, exciting and upbeat performance was truly the best introduction to the non-stop musical experience.
From the balcony, the Quartet Masque of strings then performed Haydn’s “String Quartet in D Major.” This beautiful piece demonstrated the technical skill of the performers and contrasted wonderfully with Sambistas’ previous performance.
Next, the women’s choir, Cantala, performed “The Bike Let Loose” by Edie Hill. While the lyrics were slightly eccentric, Cantala was, as ever, an excellent blend of harmonies.
Heads turned again as senior soprano Graycie Gardner performed a haunting aria from Villa-Lobos’ Bachnias Brasileiras No. 5, along with a host of cello students from a balcony, right before Wind Ensemble drew everyone’s attention back to the stage with “Early Light” by Carolyn Bremer. Suddenly, piano was introduced into the mix of instruments through fifth-years oboist Amber Verser and violist Abby Wagner and senior pianist Thomas Lee’s performance of “Leidenschaftlich erregt” from Schilflieder, op. 28 by August Klughardt.
Again on the main stage, the Symphonic Orchestra and soloists seniors Gabriella Guilfoil and Zoie Reams, sang “Belle Nuit” from Tales of Hoffman by Jacques Offenbach. Guilfoil and Reams expressed their professional level of performance through unrivaled technical and melodic skill.
Back in the balcony, “Bordel 1900” from Histoire du Tango was played by junior soprano saxophonist Joe Connor and senior percussionist Greg Riss on marimba. The technical skill of both men was incredible and the piece itself was uniquely upbeat and jazzy.
After Gamelan Chaya Asri performed the mystical “Sekar Jagat” on the main stage, the repertoire reverted back to something more familiar with a tribute the The Beatles—played rather surprisingly by The Viking Bassoon Ensemble.
Finally, piano had its time to truly shine with “Sabre Dance” by Aram Khatchaturian, played by senior Cameron Pieper and junior Elizabeth Vaughan. The dueling aspect gives the pianists a chance to really strut their stuff.
From here, the concert began its final large performances. The orchestra performed “Malambo from Four Dances from Estancia,” op. 8a, composed by Alberto Ginastera. Next, an unseen Concert Choir sang Rachmaninoff’s “Priidite, polkonimsya” from the top balcony before Jazz Ensemble injected jazz and volume back into the repertoire.
Finally, all of the night’s performers took to the stage and balconies to perform Beethoven’s classic “Symphony no. 9.” The sheer force of the sound and technique from the variety of instruments and voices created an ending that did justice to the unique concert.
There can never be true criticism of Kaleidoscope as it has a type of performance and melody for every audience member. While I was sad to see it cancelled last year, the three year gap allowed for some singularly moving moments to be observed as students who were freshmen for Kaleidoscope 2010 took principal roles in this incarnation. Ultimately, Kaleidoscope serves to do two main things. Firstly, it serves to express the variety and skill within Lawrence’s Conservatory of Music. Secondly, it serves to showcase the impressive amount of development our musicians undergo in every year of their training. No matter how many concerts you’ve seen in your time at Lawrence, Kaleidoscope will always be a must see.