LSO transforms chapel with stellar performance

Rebecca Carvalho

The Lawrence University Symphony Orchestra gave a performance in the Memorial Chapel Saturday, Jan. 24 that will certainly go down as one of its most memorable presentations.
The students of the Conservatory of Music are well known for having a rigorous academic schedule. Most of them not only take music classes, but are also deeply engaged with the liberal arts curriculum as an important and complementing part of honing their knowledge.
With these aspects in mind, the audience might have forgiven a few minor slip-ups, taking into account how thinly spread the students are. However, the orchestra proved that these things have no effect on their music, as they gave a stellar exhibition of their talent last weekend.
By 8 p.m. the orchestra was on stage, ready to go. The audience, formed by students, parents and professors, filled the balconies and most of the floor. Before the eyes of the Lawrence community, David Becker, conductor and professor of music, started the night off with “Medea’s Meditation and Dance of Vengeance, op. 23” by Samuel Barber, touching the public with its combination of softness and power.
After the intermission, the guest artist, Karen Leigh-Post, mezzo-soprano and associate professor of music, performed “Sheherazade for Voice and Orchestra” by Maurice Ravel.
“Beautiful!” exclaimed some audience members, struck by what could only be described as a bright presence on stage. Soft and sentimental, Leigh-Post’s capacity of expression was rich in beauty. Full of vitality, her voice could reach every part of the Chapel.
The third and last part of the performance brought “Symphony No. 8 in G Major, op. 88” by Antonín Dvorak to the audience, ending Saturday night with sentimental strength. A great success, the audience stood up one more time to applaud.
“The first part combined many emotions – there were moments of impact, and others were softer. And the vocal part was so magical!” said Brooke Luteyn, a frequent audience member at the LSO concerts.
The young musicians of the orchestra already knew that through the discipline of hours of practicing they would be able to captivate even the coldest audience in the world. But it is clear that they have also learned another lesson from Becker and Leigh-Post: Not only discipline, but passion would transform the Lawrence Memorial Chapel into a real temple where music and life could be worshipped.