Another perfect Autumn evening was made even more special with the Colors & Contrasts concert of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra. This was the third of four concerts in the fall series “Music in the Sanctuary” which is held at the First United Methodist Church of LaGrange (FUMC). Colors & Contrasts featured two artists: Dania Lane, harp and Richard Prior, composer.
The FUMC is a large and beautiful space with great acoustics and state-of-the-art audio visual equipment. It is the perfect location for the smaller sized orchestra used for this series, consisting of about 25 musicians. With enough room for social distancing combined with the LSO vaccination policy, all CDC and local physician recommendations were upheld.
The audience was welcomed by FUMC senior minister, Dr. John Beyers. Dr. Beyers is also on the Board of Directors for the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra. Together with facility manager Scott Hill, this concert was recorded by Lake Audio & Video of Atlanta. Here is a link to a concert snippet: https://www.facebook.com/lakeaudiovideo/videos/1051883938968019/
“New Personal Favorites”
With the opening phrases of Mendelssohn’s String Symphony No. 1 in C Major, the audience was captivated. Written in 1821, this piece shows great maturity for its 14 year old composer! The three movements gave an astounding range of sentiments all within the warmth of a major key. From the energetic first movement, it moved into sensitivity, and then the third movement showed a bounding vibrancy. The LSO musicians interpreted this work beautifully performing with feeling and precision while blending together into one unit.
The low strings had a notable role in this piece and the physical arrangement of the instruments facilitated it. Since this concert was only strings, the 1st violins were on the conductors left, 2nd violins on the right, violas spread across the middle, and cello and bass raised and central. This was different than the norm, and it was a welcome difference. The rich deep tones filled the space and blended perfectly with the other instruments. The support and resonance was terrific.
Next, our first featured artist, Dania Lane performed Handel’s Harp Concerto Op. 6, No. 6 in B Flat Major. This work was published in 1738 as an organ concerto. But, regardless of which instrument it was intended, this was beautiful music performed exquisitely on the harp. The heavenly resonance was especially relevant in this church setting. At this concert, the clarity, for which you could hear the harp, was surprising. Even at the very back of the sanctuary, the music from the solo harp was crystal clear. For such a large instrument, it is notoriously soft-spoken. Being the largest of the string instruments, it also takes a lot of energy to play. This Harp Concerto is a three-movement piece! Dania performed it beautifully from beginning to end.
Maestro, Richard Prior talked about each piece beforehand and explained, with eloquence, some of the subtle nuances and gave insight from a composers viewpoint. Next on the program was one of his own compositions, Canticle of Shadows, which brings us to our second featured artist, Richard Prior, composer. One of Richard’s comments to the audience beforehand in this Music in the Sanctuary series, was that, “Music is the sanctuary, the safe haven to which we can retreat from the pressures of life, or inhabit to reflect, celebrate or mourn.” He went on to say, “…there is perhaps no greater privilege than the intimate trust placed in colleagues to perform my music and to share that with an audience.”
The audience, was indeed honored to hear this work with which they share such a personal connection. Canticle of Shadows was thought-provoking and captivating. Suspended animation came to mind, or perhaps shadowed feelings or images, frozen in time slowly come to the light and are revealed. I’m sure this piece had a unique meaning for each person there. This beautiful composition was originally commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and was written in memory of teacher/composer Alan Ridout.
Ending the evening, was Antonin Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings in E Major Op. 2. Maestro Prior again gave the audience some insight into this five movement piece. It was captivating and with this insight, the areas to expect were easily recognized. New personal favorites were added to the list of several concert-goers on this night and this was one of them. If you missed it, then you really missed out. This concert was enlightening, satisfying, educational and entertaining. Many said they are looking forward to December’s concert already.
The near future
The final concert in the LSO’s Music in the Sanctuary series happens December 7th, 7:30 PM, First United Methodist Church of LaGrange. Fanfare’s & Serenades will brighten your holiday season with the following repertoire:
• Friederich: American Brass Band Journal Suite 2
• Maurer (ed. Mathie): 6 Pieces from 12 Kleiner Stücke
• Strauss: Serenade for Winds
• Mozart: Serenade for Winds in B-flat Major Gran Partita (select movements)
Here are a few more photos from the evening:
A little more about the fall 2021 Music in the Sanctuary series
Please check out the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra 2021-2022 season page HERE for more information on other concerts within this series. The first concert was September 28th and was released on the LSO YouTube channel. You may watch this concert for free by accessing our YouTube channel HERE. Concert dates for live concerts with performance selections are listed on the 2021-2022 season page. “Music in the Sanctuary” is a fresh experience and the LSO, with the FUMC, have a number of safety measures in place. Please read the LSO vaccination policy for these concerts on the ticket page HERE.
It’s definitely a colorful and very musical fall season. October’s concert Reflection & Perfection was absolutely beautiful and featured Lorna Wood, violin, and Alexandra Shatalova Prior, oboe. You can read more about that concert and see photos from the October 12th event on our concert review page or click HERE.
December’s concert is entitled Fanfares & Serenades and will be held on December 7th, 2021, also at First United Methodist Church of LaGrange. Be sure to check out that concert’s line-up on the LSO season page HERE.
All photos: © LaGrange Symphony Orchestra 2021