The Lawrence Symphony Orchestra performs their program “Evocations” in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Photo by Kiran Mufty
On Saturday Jan. 28, the Lawrence University Symphony Orchestra (LSO) performed their first concert of 2017. The performance was held in the Memorial Chapel and was conducted by Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Studies Mark Dupere. The concert was named “Evocations” and rightfully so. Three contrasting pieces evoked three extremely different ranges of emotions while showcasing the versatility of LSO. After reviewing the LSO “Folk and Folklore” concert in October, I was excited to write about the musicianship of the orchestra again.
The first piece of the night was “Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21” by Ludwig van Beethoven. From the very start of the performance, the extreme passion and enthusiasm of Dupere was exhibited. The respect that LSO musicians have for Dupere was also prevalent throughout the performance. This symphony displayed the extreme precision of the group, and the orchestra swelled beautifully and elegantly with every crescendo. The second movement was played sweetly and softly, while the third movement was upbeat and dramatic. Each of the four movements was full of life.
The symphony was followed by “Ma mère l’Oye” by Maurice Ravel. Also called “Mother Goose Suite,” the piece is comprised of five movements, all based on fairytales. The suite was played with a dreamlike delicateness that entranced the audience. The addition of harp and celesta added a distinct color to the suite. Notably, the percussion featured in this piece was fascinatingly odd and added a lot of the personality that Ravel intended the piece to possess.
Many instruments throughout “Mother Goose Suite” were meant to personify the characters in fairytales, and this aspect was best exemplified in the fourth movement, titled “Conversations of Beauty and the Beast.” The part of the beast was played on contrabassoon by senior soloist Renae Tuschner. The contrabassoon had a deep, menacing sound to it, making the solo particularly convincing. The last movement, “Fairy Garden,” sounded just as one would expect it to. The ethereal sounds of the orchestra were breathtaking in an almost magical way that filled the Chapel.
After an intermission in which excitement and energy buzzed through the crowd, LSO concluded the night with “Four Dance Episodes from ‘Rodeo’” by Aaron Copland. The piece started instantly fast and loud, and much of the piece continued this way. There were, however, calmer and quieter sections, including movement two, “Corral Nocturne.” Both the fast and slow tempos were played with equal conviction.
The final movement, “Hoe-Down,” began with a trio solo featuring concertmistress of the LSO and violinist senior Isabel Damann, guitarist and fifth-year senior Ilan Blanck and bassist and sophomore Jeanette Adams. The lively folk melody had both the crowd and the members of LSO stomping their feet in excitement and approval. The trio, presented at the front of the stage, visibly danced along; their enjoyment of the music was extremely obvious. After the trio, the orchestra had a bold entrance, and the piece took off. The energy of this final movement was contagious, and one could not help but smile as the piece ended.
The performance closed with a roar of approval from the audience, as well as a standing ovation. Everyone seemed to leave Memorial Chapel in good spirits, and the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra proved once again their ability to play challenging, versatile pieces with extreme precision and energy.