Lawrence Symphony Orchestra opens season this Saturday

Miranda Wardell

The Lawrence Symphony Orchestra will open its season this Saturday, Oct. 20, at 8:00 p.m., with works by Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and Dvorak.Saturday is an evening of exciting debuts. Carey H. Bostian II, symphony conductor for the 2001-2002 season during Bridget-Michaele Reischl’s sabbatical, will make his Memorial Chapel conducting debut with the LSO.

Anton Miller, a violin professor at Lawrence and international violin soloist, will make his first concerto performance with the LSO.

The Chapel’s stage expansion will be christened in its first performance this weekend.

Saturday’s program opens with “Festive Overture” by Shostakovich, a renowned Russian composer. Shostakovich’s expansive orchestration takes full advantage of the extra elbow room that the stage expansion provides. The brass section’s numbers are nearly doubled in “Festive Overture,” which fills the Chapel’s glorious acoustics with the brilliant, “festive” qualities of this work.

Prokofiev’s “Violin Concerto no. 2” is the second work in Saturday’s performance. Miller commented that the concerto is a “multi-country composition” since Prokofiev penned the score during a long trip through Europe to his homeland, Russia, after many years’ absence. Unlike Prokofiev’s lyrical “Violin Concerto no. 1,” the mature “Violin Concerto no. 2” is not only lyrical, but witty and satirical, an example of Prokofiev’s musical attitudes. Miller remarked that Prokofiev’s artistry is a unique blend of the contemporary 20th century genre and thematic, logical orchestration. The concerto’s vivid imagery paves a fascinating journey in the mind’s eye. The flow of the piece captures its listeners and surrenders their imaginations to the auspices of the concerto’s themes.

The concerto is not merely a captivating aural painting, but also a virtually insurmountable rhythmic challenge. LSO conductor Carey Bostian II commented that the technical difficulties of the concerto require near-virtuoso playing from every member of the orchestra, not just the soloist. Especially in the third movement of the concerto, Prokofiev presents the orchestra and the soloist with tantalizing meter changes. Saturday’s performance will be a breathtaking display of Anton Miller’s agile leaps through the flaming hoops of metric variation while the orchestra provides a solid foundation for every step.

The concert will culminate with Dvorak’s “Symphony no. 8,” a showcase of every section of the orchestra. Dvorak wrote the eighth symphony immediately preceding his move from Czechoslovakia to the United States; the spirit of the journey can create a framework for the listener’s interpretations. Its technical difficulties are accessible rather than insurmountable, but its musicality and lyrical splendor decree it an orchestral masterpiece. Bostian commented that every section of the orchestra receives considerable soloistic attention, but the celli are often featured and the woodwinds periodically have the opportunity to bite into “juicy parts” of Dvorak’s ideas. Bostian remarked that Dvorak’s eighth symphony is widely recognized as one of the greatest symphonies in publication.

Both Bostian and Miller commented that the LSO is a tremendous organization, a sentiment that echoes among the ranks of concert-goers throughout the conservatory’s history. The orchestra, Miller and Bostian said, is a highly disciplined group of students who possess superior talent, cooperation, and sensitivity toward music-making.