Lawrence Symphony Orchestra ready to take on Stravinsky

Olivia Hendricks

In collaboration with the Freshman Studies program, the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra will perform several works by Igor Stravinsky Saturday, Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel.
Under Director of Orchestral Studies David Becker, the orchestra will present “Part I: The Shrove – Tide Fair” from Stravinsky’s 1947 work “Petrouchka,” “The Berceuse and Finale” from his 1919 work “The Firebird Suite,” and the Robert Rudolph revised version of “The Rite of Spring.”
The concert will also feature the LSO 2009-2010 Student Concerto Competition Finalist Mariah Schultz on Barber’s “Violin Concerto, op. 14.”
The orchestra is highlighting Stravinsky’s works for two reasons. First, all freshmen at Lawrence this year are required to study Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” as part of their Freshman Studies sequence.
Freshman students will also be prepared for Stravinsky’s work by attending a lecture and demonstration Friday, Jan. 29 at 11:10 a.m. At that lecture, as well as at the concert the following evening, Assistant Professor of Music Julie McQuinn will serve as the commentator.
The second primary reason the LSO is choosing to pay tribute to Stravinsky is that this year marks the 100th Anniversary Celebration of Diaghilev and the Russian Ballet.
Sergei Diaghilev was a Russian art critic who is known for founding the Ballets Russes, or the Russian Ballet, in 1909. Diaghilev helped produce numerous ballets in collaboration with composers like Poulenc, Satie, and perhaps most famously, Stravinsky.
Said Maestro Becker of the three Stravinsky pieces the LSO will perform: “All three Stravinsky masterworks were commissioned by Diaghiliev and the Russian Ballet. These three monumental orchestral compositions by Stravinsky changed the direction of musical composition for the 20th and 21st centuries.”
Most audience members and Freshman Studies students will probably agree with the notion that Stravinsky expanded the realm of possibilities in orchestral music upon hearing the dissonance and difficult rhythmic patterns that Stravinsky employs.
LSO members also attest to the uniqueness – and difficulty – of “The Rite of Spring.”
Said LSO violinist Alex Hurlburt, “Gaining the sense of rhythm, or rather, sense of order, out of the seeming chaos implied in “The Rite of Spring” has been the most difficult aspect of the concert. It is such a unique piece that seems to fit so well with the story it follows.”
Yet while audience members may be awed by the difficulty of the Stravinsky pieces, Concerto Competition Finalist Mariah Schultz will surely impress with her emotive performance of the Barber Violin Concerto, a nice contrast to the somewhat chaotic sounds of Stravinsky.
Said Schultz, “Performing the Barber violin concerto hardly involves the devilishly fancy and virtuosic riffs often found in other Romantic violin pieces. First and foremost, it calls for a wealth of sound and variety of emotions that work to enhance the colors of the piece, whether warm, cool, bright, dark, vivid or subdued.”
The concert is free and open to the public, and more information can be found at http://thor.lawrence.edu/calendar/.

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