Finlandia, Flute, and F Major

Laura Streyle

The LSO put on a fantastic performance last weekend in the chapel. Photo by Minh Nguyen (minh nguyen)

The Lawrence Symphony Orchestra gave its first concert of the year Saturday, Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. The performance exhibited the cohesiveness and the passion of the orchestra, which has significantly matured since the beginning of the five-week-old term. To choose a program such as the one that LSO took on for a first concert takes orchestral guts, and the ensemble proved itself worthy of the challenge.
Donning a red velvet vest under his black concert tuxedo, Maestro David Becker entered onto the stage, signaling the start of the performance. He raised his arms up over the readily poised ensemble and then dropped his baton into the motion of the piece.
The LSO first breathed life into Sibelius’ “Finlandia, op. 26” with the inhalation of the smooth bows across the strings, the exhaled mournfulness of the clarinet and a released tension into a common hymn.
After the orchestra resituated itself, reducing the large setup for a smaller setting, flutist Sheri Muneno, the 2008-09 LSO Concerto Competition Finalist, walked to the front of the stage.
Muneno’s dexterous handling of the skipping runs and difficult passages of Nielsen’s “Concerto for Flute” allowed her sound to float on the support of the orchestra, holding their intensity back with her pure tone and pulling them forward with her winding phrases. The Concerto was executed with a focused polish, and the audience heartily applauded Muneno for her performance.
After the brief intermission, sophomore cellist Andrew LaCombe found his way to the microphone and introduced the third and final piece of the evening: the massive beast that is Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 4, F Major. op. 36.”
LaCombe explained how the composer’s depression clouded his writing life and how his journey through depression and intricate discovery is mirrored in the fluctuating shape of the symphony.
Becker spread his large wingspan over the ensemble, and the sound of the orchestra welled up to meet his movement.
As the ebbing and flowing of the bows across the string section became more violent, the forceful vibrations culminated to press on each banister in the chapel.
Every person’s chest and forehead were drawn into the swirling sphere of burning music. The cymbals clashed and the piccolo cut through the mellow bassoons; the purging sound of the French horn egged on the lucid song of the clarinet and the oboe’s deep rising.
There was hope in the symphony, there was frustration, there was suspense, there was explosive revelation and there was a satisfying last note that had the audience up from their seats in no time after Becker let his arms fall to his sides.
The next LSO concert will be a collaborative program with the Lawrence choirs. The concert is scheduled for Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

The LSO put on a fantastic performance last weekend in the chapel. Photo by Minh Nguyen (minh nguyen)

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