“Fantastic Concert!” “Out-of-this-World Good!”
This night was a little different, but very special. Preceding the concert, a few images were projected above the stage of various LSO photo memories. These were intermixed with sponsor recognitions. The photos were of wonderful LSO supporters from recent seasons and a few from the past. The audience seemed to appreciate that the LSO shared these precious keepsakes with them.
Also, a little differently, we begin this post with a few casual photos from the evening. Normally this section appears at the end of the post, but most of these images were taken before the concert, so here they are. This group also includes a snapshot during the warm welcome that was presented by LSO president, Janet Johnson. She thanked several school groups in the audience, recognized sponsors, and spoke a little about the concert.
The evening began with a superb performance by the combined orchestras of the LaGrange Symphony and the LaGrange Symphony Youth. Three pieces were chosen for the annual side-by-side mentoring experience. All were from Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt suite. They were: Morning Mood, Asa’s Death, and In the Hall of the Mountain King. Concertmaster for the side-by-side was Ashlyn Endicott.
Maestro Richard Prior conducted Morning Mood, which was a wonderful choice to open the concert. The composition appropriately projected a feeling of a fresh, new beginning. There were visions of sunrise and birds singing softly and quietly. The volume grew incrementally and smoothly. These musicians did a wonderful job. It was quite impressive. The music was clear, melodic, free-flowing, and beautifully strong.
For the second selection, Maestro Prior graciously turned the podium over to Youth Symphony Director, Michael Giel, to conduct Asa’s Death. (Michael also plays viola with the LSO, so he only had a few steps from the viola section to the podium.) Michael’s fluid style of conducting matched this piece nicely.
The musical control required to play Asa’s Death is astonishing. The wonderful long bows need to be silky and smooth, both in crescendo and decrescendo. This piece has serious dynamics that are vital to its performance especially the exchanges from forte to pianissimo, pianississimo, and then pianissississimo! The deliveries of volume, tone and color were perfect by all the musicians. When playing something so quietly, there is no room for error. This was super-impressive, especially for such young performers. Remember that the LSYO is made up of persons that are high school age or younger. Bravo.
In the Hall of the Mountain King
The third piece for the side-by-side was In the Hall of the Mountain King, which is very challenging in pizzicato and speed. Wow, this entire side-by-side line-up turned out to be a brilliant and impressive showcase! The students, teachers, director, LSO members, and conductor should all be very proud of this performance. The audience loved it and showed their tremendous appreciation.
Next, the stage was quickly reset while the LSYO musicians joined the audience. They, too, were anxious to hear the 2021-2022 season’s Young Artists Competition first place winner, Lindsey Welp.
Lindsey’s selection was Concertino for Alto Saxophone, by Jeanine Rueff. Her performance was a joy to watch and hear. Clearly, this music spoke to her. It was mesmerizing and took the saxophone to levels that our audience rarely sees. The music consisted of three movements that were all intended to impress – and they did!
Lindsey’s musical ability is awesome. She is sure to go far and it’s great that the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artists Competition could help facilitate her journey. We were all exposed to fresh new ideas. Even the Maestro commented that he had never conducted this piece before. Great performance!
The Thrill of the Orchestra
The program now took another twist with storyteller Carol Cain joining the LSO on stage. Together they presented the program the LSO provides for all the third graders in the area. Carol has a long history narrating these concerts each year with the LSO.
So, what is this program?
The LSO’s outreach program provides, free of charge, a school outing to Callaway Auditorium to hear a full symphonic concert. It is intended as an introduction to the symphony and explains all of the parts that make up an orchestra. Who gets to go? It is for third graders and annually requires multiple performances, since our area has over 3,000 students of this age! All third graders are invited.
Each piece in this part of the program was prefaced with entertaining narration. Carol used props and costume to support her performance. The repertoire included John Williams’ themes from Star Wars, Klaus Badelt’s Pirates of the Caribbean, Leroy Anderson’s Jazz Legato, Russell Peck’s The Thrill of the Orchestra, and concluded with a terrific rendition of John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever – complete with its wonderful piccolo solo. It was out-of-this-world good.
The Thrill of the Orchestra by Russell Peck explained the sections of the orchestra. This fun and lively composition lets the musicians show their instruments at coinciding sections of the narration, all backed with music. Check the photos to get an idea of what this was like. It is really a great piece of writing. You can read more about Russell Peck in our blog post HERE.
It was fantastic! Played with confidence and flair, these pieces really were larger-than-life and inspirational. The audience wanted more, which I believe is the point of the Education program. Many students take an interest in studying an instrument after coming to this concert. From some conversations I heard, it works on adults too. Great performance from beginning to end.
The SUSTAINABILITY Concert
After the EDUCATION concert, folks were chatting about the LSO’s season finale concert “SUSTAINABILITY”, which is to take place April 25th. It will also contain performances by two guest artists!
At that concert, attendees will see the first-place winner of the 2023 Young Artists Competition for strings. Sicong Chen will present Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Op 35. Sicong is 25 years old and a native of Beijing, China. He is currently a student and Graduate Assistant at the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University, in Columbus GA.
The second guest artist is organist, Don Papenbrock who will perform Saint-Saens Symphony No. 3, also known as the organ symphony. Prepare to be amazed! You thought there was no organ in Callaway Auditorium, but you will be astounded at what you will experience on April 25th. Mr. Papenbrock, with more than 30 years of experience will combine with the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra to bring you a state-of-the-art performance that will be inspirational. You will surely remember this season finale concert for a long time.
It is recommended that you secure your tickets early.