LCO does classical and contemporary

Kat Deas

Tomorrow night, the Lawrence Chamber Orchestra will perform its first of three concerts for the school year, performing Rossini’s Overture to “La Cerentola,” Walker’s “Lyric for Strings,” Stephen Montague’s “The White Edge of Phrygia,” and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 2.”
What can the audience expect to be different about this concert in comparison with the last LCO concert? According to Professor Robert Debbaut, while three-fourths of the last concert was primarily romantic, three-fourths of this weekend’s repertoire will be fundamentally classical -even the more recent compositions.
Rossini’s Overture to “La Cenerentola” begins the satirically comic opera that tells the story of Cinderella, the mistreated scullery maid who still holds herself with grace and forgiveness, and to whom Rossini gives a wealth of dynamic coloratura melodies. Although the plot is a romance, Rossini’s style in this piece has a signature classical, albeit sentimental flair.
George Walker wrote “Lyric for Strings” in 1946 while he was a graduate student at the Curtis Institute of Music, with the dedication, “to my grandmother.” Walker finished this romantic piece after his grandmother’s passing. The melody begins in the violins after a brief introduction, with other voices alternating between static harmony and imitations of the main theme. Lyric concludes with two climaxes that then return to thoughtful cadences that Walker introduced previously.
Another contemporary composer and pianist, Stephen Montague originally wrote “The White Edge of Phrygia” for ballet. Its title refers to two main themes in the music: “white sound” and the Greek belief that the Phrygian mode evokes passion and ecstasy. Montague asks the performers to use several extended techniques: the string players use pencils or short sticks to play their instruments, and the wind players simply blow air through their instruments -the so-called “white sound.” The piece blends minimalist patterns of repetitive modal harmony with formal structure and echoes of classical European music.
Although Beethoven’s later music is often classified as romantic, his second symphony is filled with influences from Mozart and Haydn: the pillar contributors of the classical era. It was during Beethoven’s composition of this piece that he first became aware of his impending deafness, inevitably causing him a great deal of emotional strife. Perhaps as a result, this symphony is powerful to the point where, as composer Hector Berlioz once said, “everything is noble, energetic, proud.”
The Lawrence Chamber Orchestra will perform in the chapel at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20.