Fall Symphony Orchestra Engages Audience
Published: Friday, October 12, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 12, 2012 01:10
The annual Fall Symphony Orchestra took the stage at Von der Mehden Recital Hall last night, putting on a show that pleased connoisseur and curious onlooker alike.
Well-dressed ladies and gentlemen waited anxiously for the orchestra to begin their show, which included renditions of Mozart, Jean Sibelius and Howard Hanson. It was not until Harvey Felder, a UConn professor and one of Symphony Magazine’s “Promising Conductors,” took the stage that things really got underway.
The first piece performed was Mozart’s “Overture to Der Schauspieldirektor.” Written in “Sonata-Allegro” form, the Overture allowed for the audience to become acclimated to Mozart, with the string section hitting marvelous highs before returning to a jovial and ethereal pitch. Felder, who according to the program helps “audiences feel immediately welcomed, comfortable and connected to his performances,” established his charisma from the outset, leading an orchestra that never missed a beat.
Next was the “Piano Concerto No. 16, K. 451, in D major,” again by Mozart. The concerto, the longest of the symphony, expanded upon the Romantic themes of the Overture, combining the string section with flutes, trumpets and bassoons to create an excited, mystical aura.
What really lent beauty to the concerto, though, was the piano playing of Irma Vallecillo, a nationally-renowned pianist. According to Mozart, the concerto was supposed to “make the performers sweat,” and watching Vallecillo was a sight to behold. There was nothing rushed or particularly harsh in her performance, however, as she sometimes allowed notes to linger to affect a gentle feel to the music. By the end of the concerto, the orchestra received a stirring round of applause.
The latter half of the symphony featured music that was a bit darker, incorporating more bass and percussion while building up to much more emphatic crescendos.
The first piece, Sibelius’s “Finlandia,” began with ominously low brass chords to signal this transition. The piece, written as a token to Finnish nationalism during the country’s Russian occupation, built to dramatic extravagance while also frequently reverting to low, creeping violins. Woodwinds find themselves side-by-side with brass and the unique combination showed to be a splendid return from the intermission.
The last piece played was “Symphony No. 2 (‘Romantic’)”, by Howard Hanson. Felder made a point of speaking before the orchestra began, telling the audience to envision the ‘Romantic‘ aspect of the symphony as “between a mother and her son” as opposed to “between two adults,” which garnered a fair bit of laughter.
“Symphony No. 2” proved to consist of the same grandiosity as its predecessor. The melodies of the orchestra soared to booming highs and lows and the climaxes contained within had the power to make you jump.
“The music was very engaging and very easy to get lost in,” said Dillon Jones, a 3rd-semester computer science and engineering major.
When the symphony concluded, all the performers stood to receive copious and much-deserved applause.