Orchestra heats up Chapel stage with Saturday’s Concert By Miranda WardellThis weekend, the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra will fill the Chapel with diverse colors and excitement with a program that spans from Takemitsu to Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky.
The program opens with Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu’s (1930-1996) 1991 composition ********How Slow the Wind**************. On writing music, Takemitsu once wote: “I compose to find my own existence, and through that, to find my relationship to other human beings.” ************How Slow the Wind*********, unlike the stereotypical modern orchestral work, is not random and esoteric, but rather, it has a lovely, simple melody which the ear can easily grasp. The piece’s difficulties lie in its extended range, especially for the divided strings, often playing in harmonics. Challenging phrasing also presents hurdles for the orchestra. The musicians’ mastery of these possible trip lines makes for great listening. Although Takemitsu’s *************How Slow the Wind************** is not overly complicated, its voicing is unique in that it includes alto flute, contra bassoon, English horn, and bass clarinet in its distinctive voicing. Only eleven minutes in length, ***********How Slow the Wind******* is a flavorsome appetizer to Saturday night’s concert.
The next number on Saturday’s program whisks the audience from Japan to Russia with Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto #1, performed by Daniel Van Sickle, the 2002 LSO Concerto Competition Winner. The Shostakovich is the Symphony’s third concerto work this season, following their performances of Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto with Anton Miller and von Weber’s *****Andante and Hungarian Rondo***** with solo winner Renee DeBoer. The piano concerto is scored for piano and string orchestra with solo trumpet, performed by Ed Sutton. The strings carry a special responsibility in the Shostakovich since they must complement the comedic nature and vigorous tempo of the piece in the absence of winds. Van Sickle, in an earlier interview with ****The Lawrentian****, said that the audience must be “prepared and be willing to laugh” at the Shostakovich, promising a great visual as well as aural performance. Carey Bostian, conductor of the LSO, commented that the orchestra has had a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with Van Sickle in their seven rehearsals with the soloist.
After intermission, the full orchestra fills the stage, extension and all, for Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. When Tchaikovsky finished this 50-minute piece of heroic musical literature in 1888, he pondered whether it would please the public’s tastes at all, but it is now one of his most performed works. With “Fate” as its ever-present theme, the Fifth Symphony is ultimately optimistic and exciting. The orchestra encounters numerous technical difficulties, especially with the romping pace of the last movement. The second movement, a substantial part of the work, is a 14-minute love song that showcases some of Tchaikovsky’s most beautiful sonorities. The LSO has been working on the Fifth Symphony since mid-November, so we can expect their Fifth-Symphony labors to successfully culminate on Saturday just as our second-term labors begin.
The Lawrence University Symphony Orchestra will perform on Saturday, January 19 at 8:00 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel.