UConn Symphony Orchestra excites audience at concert

UConn Symphony Orchestra conductor Harvey Felder (middle) stands with student musicians during a concert at the von der Mehden Recital Hall in Storrs, Connecticut on Thursday, March 10, 2016. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut’s Symphony Orchestra stunned the audience in von der Mehden Recital Hall with an exciting and expressive concert Thursday night.

The standout performance of the evening was “Concertante for Flute and Clarinet” by Franz Danzi featuring soloists Allison Fletcher on flute and Samuel Beckwith on clarinet. The piece is a “rather unfamiliar work” according to conductor Harvey Felder, who searched for something that would showcase the talents of the two solists.

The piece was spritely and light-hearted, with both Fletcher and Becker nimbly negotiating its fast-paced runs throughout. Fletcher’s delicate flute playing perfectly complimented the clear tones of Beckwith’s clarinet and neither seemed to tire despite the song’s energetic pace.

“The ‘Concertante’ is so playful and light, but has required a lot of work and attention to detail,” Fletcher wrote in the concert’s program. “Sam and I have worked very hard to bring together our ideas about the piece to make something really special to us both.”

At its close, “Concertante for Flute and Clarinet” garnered the loudest applause of the night from the audience.

The Symphony Orchestra also performed two overtures by Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner. However, though the overtures’ composers were contemporaries, both born in 1813, the pieces couldn’t have been more different.

Members of the UConn Symphony Orchestra's cello section perform during a concert at von der Mehden Recital Hall in Storrs, Connecticut on Thursday, March 10, 2016. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

Verdi’s “Overture to ‘Nabucco,’” according to Felder, is about “slaves wanting to return to their homeland—longing for their homeland.” Despite this serious subject matter, the piece’s fluttering flutes and leisurely melody were deceptively joyful, like strolling through the countryside on a sunny day. If Felder had not informed the audience of the true meaning of the piece beforehand, no one would’ve guessed the darker themes that laid behind it.

Wagner’s “Overture to ‘Rienzi,’” on the other hand, was bombastic and intense. The piece is “about a gentleman who is seeking to restore the glory of Rome… to make Rome great again,” Felder said.

The “Overture” began with a lone trumpet note that was repeated throughout the piace, meant to signal the arrival of troops. Another recurring theme was a march meant to call the troops to battle. Wagner’s work, Felder said, featured dueling themes of love and militarism, as well as pride and humility.

The fourth piece performed by the Symphony Orchestra was “Symphony in G Major” by Johann Stamitz, a spirited and lively tune that slowly transitioned to softer and more melancholy tones before regaining the mischievous energy with which it began – a perfect song to start off the concert with.


Helen Stec is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at helen.stec@uconn.edu.