LSO concert preview

Elena Amesbury

Saturday, the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra will perform Igor Stravinsky’s “Petruska” and Antonin Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” at 8:00 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel. Together, the pieces will serve as a powerful end to the year’s concert series.
Written in 1911 and revised in 1947, ” Petruska” was commissioned for the Ballets Russes in Paris. “Petruska” is a ballet about three puppets that come to life because of a spell cast by the Old Wizard in order to entertain the crowd at a fair.
The puppets lead drama-filled lives from the cells where they are kept. The puppet Petruska falls in love with the ballerina, who in turn falls for the more handsome and wealthy Moor.
Petruska and the Moor fight, but the Moor is more powerful and ends up chopping Petruska to death with an ax. Appropriately, the music set to the ballet is tumultuous and filled with emotion.
Christine Gebler, a bass performance major, emphasized how much of an entire story the music tells. “It may be hard to understand what’s going on without knowing the ballet,” the freshman noted.
Dvorak wrote his Symphony No. 9, “From the New World,” while visiting the United States in 1893. The conductor of the LSO, David Becker, commented that the piece was picked to counterbalance the 20th-century Stravinsky piece.
Violin performance and music education major Danielle Simandl articulated how Dvorak “conveys very simple emotions powerfully in his music. Emotions such as homesickness, love, reminiscence, and determination – they are all simple, but are expressed very powerfully.”
Both pieces were picked because they are staples of a musician’s repertoire. Stravinsky’s “Petruska” “changed the direction of music in the 20th century,” said Becker. “It is such a major piece that I wanted the orchestra to play it.”
“The music majors will all play it many times, and it’s also a good time for non-majors to brush elbows with it.”
Becker noted especially that the orchestra “has grown tremendously, and that the success is due to the outstanding students and their hard work, and to the faculty and all of their support. These virtuoso pieces, not necessarily the type of work assumed done by undergraduate orchestras, can be played because of the students and faculty.