Orchestra to perform works by Rachmaninoff and Theofanidis

Jennifer Burns

(Julien Poncet)

Saturday at 8:00 p.m., the Lawrence University Symphony Orchestra will be performing two works from different musical time periods. The first work is a 20th century piece by composer Christopher Theofanidis.

Rainbow Body, written as a commission for the Houston Symphony in 2000, will be performed under the direction of assistant conductor Seong-Kyung Graham.

Theofanidis based Rainbow Body on a melody taken from medieval composer Hildegard von Bingen’s Maria, Auctrix Vite.

In an interview, Theofanidis comments, “This melodic fragment spins out and is orchestrated primarily in the strings in a way that is meant to evoke a cathedral acoustic, what I would call a wet sound, creating a kind of sonic halo around the melody.”

This fragment returns many times, contrasting with other melodies that in turn create a haunting palate of colors. Zachary Scot-Johnson, a second violin in the orchestra, says, “Rainbow Body has some gorgeous solos. It’s a very metaphorical piece. It’s gorgeous.”

The Lawrence Symphony will also perform Sergi Rachmaninoff’s romantic Symphony No. 2 in E-minor, Op. 27. Rachmaninoff composed this symphony in 1906-07 while secluded in Dresden.

Rachmaninoff left Russia to live in Dresden with his family after his daughter became ill. This symphony is considered to be a display of his full-fledged melodic style.

Although much like his first symphony, it differs, as Rachmaninoff’s ideas are more expansive.

“The Rachmaninoff is the hardest piece we’ve played this year,” said Scot-Johnson. “Symphony No. 2 is rich and dense. Often, there are multiple themes being played simultaneously.”

Bridget-Michaele Reischl will be conducting the Rachmaninoff.