Autumn concert of the Symphony Orchestra – Exhibitor
A concert filled with exciting performances by students
On November 4, conductor Craig Mason conducted the UW-Platteville Symphony Orchestra in his fall concert. The concert consisted of four pieces, the third having a total of four movements. This concert also included alumni who were able to relive their experiences under the bright lights of the stage with current students who share the same passion for orchestral music.
The concert started wordlessly with Soon Hee Newbold’s “Iditerod”. This exhilarating performance was just what it took to instantly draw audiences in and hypnotize them with the music. The first two minutes were thrilling, encompassing what it feels like to cross the tundra at full speed in the race the song is named after. Its dramatic accents were abruptly cut off by the sound of the piano and a single violin belonging to community member Barb Wilhelm. Over the next minute, the string orchestra began to return slowly and silently, prompting the audience to stand beside a fire under the frozen, empty night sky, sitting thoughtfully alone. Just as quickly it was cut – all of a sudden the audience was back in the race with all the drama from the start. “Iditerod” ends with a triumphant conclusion, as if it were an evocation of the race which had just ended.
Then, “The Old Boatman” by Florence Beatrice Smith Price. This deceptively delicate piece is significantly slower than the previous track, with vibrato throughout and short but tasty violin and cello solos. The play conveys the image of an elderly sailor returning ashore after a long day at sea. Salt in his beard and water on his boots, he quietly steers his beloved ship to the dock. The eyes of the watery stone-faced boatman, both from the sea air and the feeling of melancholy loneliness, for there was only him and his cold, relentless love which is the ocean.
The third piece was “Danzas de Panama” by William Grant Still, with four movements titled Tamborito, Mejorana, Punto and Cumbia. This play was conducted by guest conductor Dr. William James McClain of Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. With broad arms, McClain coordinated the orchestra. The lively and graceful music of the piece was accompanied by non-traditional hits on the wooden bodies of the instruments, in which the members of the orchestra, at certain intervals, struck in time with the music. The music seemed perfectly out of place in a dance performance at a party or on the street. This almost 16-minute piece was full of life and excitement and no doubt strained the arms of the string orchestra.
The last piece brought in the rest of the orchestra, including brass, drums and cymbals, as well as Mason once more to conduct. This last piece, entitled “March to the Scaffold”, written by Louis-Hector Berlioz, is in fact the fourth of five movements in a larger piece called “Symphonie Fantastique”. While the whole play tells a story, the fourth movement is about a dream of the main character after poisoning himself with a non-lethal dose of opium. In the dream, he watches himself walking to the scaffolding and its eventual execution after the murder of his beloved. The play began very solemnly and dark, then moved on to triumphant music, then dark again. These alternating themes were then interrupted by a clarinet solo, meant to signify a last moment of happiness before the orchestra’s shock returned, meaning the main character was beheaded. It ends triumphantly, with the anticipation of its conclusion growing with each passing bar.
The UW-Platteville Symphony Orchestra put on a spectacular show, and the return of live music to the lives of spectators was eagerly awaited and well worth the wait. The UW-Platteville Symphony Orchestra will perform again on December 3 and 4 at the Holiday Gala, starting at 7:30 p.m.