Perkins and Neustadter join LSO

Alex Schaaf

The Lawrence Symphony Orchestra will present works by Rimsky-Korsakov, Beethoven and Paganini this Sat., April 14 in the Memorial Chapel.
Monte Perkins, Lecturer in Music and Teacher of Bassoon, will be guest conducting the LSO on the Rimsky-Korsakov piece, “Capriccio Espagnol.”
Perkins is a former member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and is the principal bassoonist with the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra. He is also the Conductor of the Festival City Symphony, a semi-professional regional orchestra in Milwaukee.
“I was very honored when Mr. Becker asked me to guest conduct the LSO,” said Perkins.
“I was very impressed by the preparation that the orchestra members made for what is a very challenging work, and I was also very thankful for the ensemble preparation that Mr. Becker had done.”
According to LSO director David Becker, the Rimsky-Korsakov piece will surely be a great highlight of the concert. “This is a wonderful virtuoso showpiece for the orchestra, featuring many soloists,” Becker said.
The performances of the individual pieces will benefit from the nature of the rehearsals.
“‘Capriccio’ has outstanding solos for a number of instruments, and they are all being handled beautifully,” said Perkins.
“Ever since the first rehearsal, there has been little to do besides to begin putting my own personal stamp on the interpretation.”
Perkins noted the challenges for the orchestra that having a guest conductor entails.
“It is always difficult for an orchestra to respond to a conductor they have never seen before, and interpret musically what they are physically seeing for the first time,” said Perkins.
“However, the orchestra had little trouble following me, and quickly adapted to my style of conducting.”
Garth Neustadter will be performing Paganini’s “Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 6 in D major,” with the LSO.
Neustadter was the finalist in the 2006-07 LSO Student Concerto Competition, which led to his performing the piece with the symphony orchestra.
“It’s a great honor for me to perform this piece with the orchestra,” said Neustadter. “I’ve performed with adult orchestras a few times before, but performing with my fellow peers is definitely a unique and gratifying opportunity.”
Neustadter had many good things to say about the piece that he was performing, and its composer.
“Paganini was maybe one of the greatest violinists ever,” he said. “It used to be said that he had made a pact with the devil to gain his playing abilities.”
Nuestadter went on to point out the operatic quality of the piece.
“For those that think classical music is only ‘serious’ music, they will be surprised to find this music full of humor and sarcasm. The listener can also clearly hear the many distinct characters taking the stage.”
Senior violinist Ana-Lisa Jones added, “The Paganini is a dazzling, virtuosic concerto, and Garth really does it justice.”
In addition to Paganini’s concerto, the LSO will be performing Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7, Op. 92.” Jones will be making introductory remarks for the piece.
“Overall, I think this is one of the most exciting and accessible concerts the LSO has played in my four years at Lawrence,” she said.
The concert starts Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel.