Last night in von der Mehden recital hall, parents, locals and students gathered to hear the final concert of the semester performed by the University of Connecticut’s very own Symphony Orchestra. The stage was set with kettledrums, upright bass and stuffed to the very edge with stands and chairs, with barely enough room for the conductor’s stand. The band then proceeded to tune their string instruments, led by a viola player. After the band was greeted with a warm applause from the audience, head conductor Harvey Felder and viola soloist Tiana Piscitelli took center stage for the beginning of the first piece titled “Romanze for Viola and Orchestra, op. 85” composed by Max Burch.
“Romanze for Viola and Orchestra” was written in 1912, modeled after typical romances from the Romantic era. When writing this piece for violist and friend, Maurice Vieux, Bruch Remained true to his belief that a composer’s primary goal should be to resonate beauty for the audience to experience. This was done incredibly so by the soloist accompanied by the full orchestra.
The piece began with slow swinging chords with a melancholy and somber feel, all whilst remaining very full. The band as a whole was incredibly well syncopated and dynamic enough to add value to the performance without overshadowing Piscitelli’s incredible myriad of ups and downs, almost as if she was caressing the audience with her work. The end of this continued into a lull with the whole band finishing out on a long drawn out chord as the soloist finished her masterpiece. Upon completion the entire audience exploded into applause, whistles and cheers for the soloist as friends and family ran to the stage to shower her in five bouquets of roses and other beautiful arrangements
“She was absolutely incredible, it is so wonderful to see such talent in these fine young men and women,” said Gloria Joseph, an audience member and grandparent to one of the performers on stage that evening.
Then the conductor had a chance to address the audience and thank everyone for coming. He provided a little anecdote about the past of this orchestra and how they placed first at a recent concerto competition. “We understand that there are no real winners and losers in art but, (he gestures to the orchestra with a smile on his face as the audience laughs) it is what it is,” said Felder.
The second piece was a bit of a change up from the first. This piece was a classical opera piece and was sung by Anthony Lethem. After a brief introduction of the pieces he was about to perform and the story they tell, his booming voice captivated the audience as he began the beautiful romantic piece. At the end of this enchanting piece, he too was met with a standing ovation from the crowd, enamored with yet another stellar solo performance.
After the third piece that felt to be a pallet cleanser of sporadic and incredibly complicated rhythms and melodies, the evening was followed up by a more familiar tune, “Symphony No. 4, in D minor, op. 120.” This was a slightly different rendition from the classical version, with slight changes to how the rhythm flowed from cadence to cadence but nonetheless held the theme that orchestra lovers have come to appreciate.
After the lengthy and hard fought conclusion to the show, the audience somehow mustered an even larger applause for the final bow of the entire orchestra, all beaming with the pride they had earned.
Dan Wood is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.