Czech Out Colgate Orchestra

By Brian HinrichsMaroon-News StaffPutting together an orchestra concert is a large-scale undertaking, and the Colgate University Orchestra manages to do so four times a year; no small feat for a liberal arts college in a rural setting. This group of students, community members and professional musicians meet every Wednesday night for two and a half hours, while the students meet for sectionals most Monday evenings. Conductor Marietta Cheng, never shying away from the most ambitious works in the orchestral repertoire, runs a tight rehearsal and the results show. Senior and principal student violinist Natalie Reed sums the experience up like this: “I’ve gotten to play some really great orchestral works over the last four years and I will miss the intense, but fun and energetic playing environment.” Catch the orchestra’s last concert Sunday, April 9 at 3:30 in the Chapel, and see for yourself.A defining characteristic of the University Orchestra is that it is not solely a student organization. Though there are many talented musicians at Colgate who do not perform with the orchestra, even with maximum participation it would be difficult to explore much of the 19th and 20th century canon simply because of size. If you have ever been to an orchestra concert at Colgate, it was probably apparent that the grey-haired percussionist is not a student. Many of these orchestra participants are adjunct Colgate faculty who teach private lessons to the students they are playing with, many are musicians by profession who make the rounds in Central New York performing groups, and some are simply interested and enthusiastic amateurs keeping up their favorite pastime. There is a unique dialogue which occurs when the wisdom of experience meets the fervor of first encounters. For the professionals, playing with Colgate musicians may provide fresh perspectives. For the students, the coupling with veteran players provides an occasion to rise to new technical heights and interpretive clarity.Another significant aspect of the University Orchestra is its openness to students from outside the music department. Senior cellist, past concerto competition winner and president of the orchestra John McGann, when asked what he would miss after leaving the organization upon graduation, said “I’ll miss playing at such a high level with students that aren’t music majors.” This may seem a trivial point, but the consequences again are positive. The main advantage of such openness (though auditions are of course mandatory) is the immediate increase in numbers. All of the musicians on stage are there because they love to play, not necessarily because it is a part of their studies. The final orchestra concert of the year on April 9 will open with the Symphony in C (1855) by Georges Bizet (1838-1875). The composer, well known for his opera Carmen, composed the piece when he was only seventeen years old. The concluding piece will be Czech composer Anton?-n Dvo??k’s (1841-1904) Eighth Symphony (1889). The symphony is noted for its poeticism, “with imitations of natural sounds, pastoral subjects, signals, fanfares, the suggestion of a funeral march and the idiom of a chorale” (Groves Music Online). It is full of pristine melodies and rhythmic drive, and concludes with a boisterous Czech dance.In between these two works will be performances by the winners of the student concerto competition, senior violinists Julie Saiki and Sophia D’Addio. Both girls, students of Professor of Music and Africana & Latin American Studies Laura Klugherz, have recently put on recitals but are prepared to rebound with this exciting opportunity to perform as soloists. Saiki will be performing Max Bruch’s (1838-1920) Violin Concert in G minor op. 26 (1868). She started learning the piece this past summer, and began studying it in lessons this past fall. In her own words, Julie reflects on the work: “The first movement of the Bruch violin concerto is very exciting. Some words that come to mind are powerful, vibrant, and emotive. I hope to communicate this energy and excitement to the audience.” Thinking of past experiences with the orchestra, she said, “it is always a memorable experience when guest soloists perform with the orchestra, including Richard Goode, or our own artist-in-residence, Steve Heyman.” Now Saiki is assuming the role of soloist, and it will be the orchestra’s turn to support her.D’Addio will be adding another work of Dvo??k’s to the program, his Violin Concerto in A minor (1883). D’Addio began studying the concerto last spring, and here sums up what the piece and the experience mean to her: “The Dvo??k violin concerto itself is both brilliantly dark and poignant, alternating between fiery sixteenth-note passages and lingering, nostalgic melodies. This performance is in a sense the culminating and defining moment of my musical experience at Colgate. Over the past four years I have grown so much in both technique and artistry, particularly through my work with the Chamber Players and the orchestra; this is my chance to share my personal growth as a musician with my audience.” Both Saiki and D’Addio plan to continue playing when they graduate, practicing individually and potentially forming quartets or joining local orchestras. Consider taking time out of your Sunday afternoon on April 9 to try something new, if not to support your peers and enjoy an exciting, Romantic, Czech-driven program. Many musicians at Colgate log hours not far off from those of athletes, and as our teams win on the field, you’ll find the same success in the Chapel.