Colgate Orchestra Conveys Tchaikovsky’s Vibrant Emotion

Tom Wiley

Leonard Bernstein, in his famous Young People’s Concerts, when he got to the point where he would demonstrate emotion in music to his young audience, decided to use a few bars from Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 4.” He played a melody that re-peated itself, while rising in key and in a crescendo each time it met a contrapuntal response.

“Did you ever feel that you wanted something more than any-thing else in the world? And you said so. And they said, ‘No, you can’t have it.’ And then you said again, ‘I want it.’ And again they said, ‘No.’ And again you said louder and more excited, ‘I want it!’ and again louder, ‘I want it!’ until it seems like something would break in your head, and there’s nothing else to do but cry. Well, that’s like this music,” Bernstein narrated.

The University Orchestra reproduced these vivid emotions of Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony in Memorial Chapel on Friday afternoon. Conducted by Professor of Music and Con-ductor of the Colgate Orchestra Marietta Cheng, the orches-tra performed Franz von Suppe’s martial fanfare “Light Cal-vary Overture,” Joseph Haydn’s “Trumpet Concerto in E flat major,” which featured Teacher of Trumpet Ralph Dudgeon as soloist, Bed?ich Smetana’s tone painting “Die Moldau” and, of course, the centerpiece of the concert, Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 4.”

“Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony is a tour de force masterpiece,” Cheng said. “It is emotionally moving music that really challenges the audience. I look for music with vibrant color that makes an impression on the audience. You can do that with Tchaikovsky.”

The concert was performed after only three weeks of rehearsals by the University Orchestra, which is comprised of both student and professional musicians.

“It is a tribute to the talent of the musicians that after only three weeks they could turn around and do such challenging works,” Cheng said.

Senior Corin Kinkhabwala, who plays double bass, agreed that tackling the symphony was both a challenging and exciting endeavor. He also enjoyed the other, shorter pieces as well.

“The Smetana piece was my favorite,” Kinkhabwala said. “It was like a movie soundtrack. The floating melodies were like the flowing river it described. It is easy to picture what is going on.”

The concert attracted a sizable audience of visitors and Colgate people, filling much of the two levels of the chapel.

“We are so fortunate to have the Colgate Orchestra and the other music groups,” audience member and Harry Emer-son Fosdick Professor of the Humanities and Native Ameri-can Studies and Religion Chris Vecsey said. “Their music is so highly refined and beautiful. It is wonderful to walk in on a Sunday afternoon and be sublimely enriched.”

Contact Tom Wiley at [email protected].