The LaGrange Symphony Orchestra set a new record during Tuesday’s season finale. This concert had the greatest number of adult musicians ever for a regular instrumental LSO concert! This concert, titled The World’s Embrace, which included both Mendelssohn and Mahler works, required seventy-seven (77) musicians. How special and fitting for a grand finale, which closes a truly remarkable season with this record-breaking ensemble.
First on the program was guest artist, Richard Cho, winner of the Dorothy Allen Turner Award for first place in the 2017 Young Artists Competition. Performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Mr. Cho’s first notes were divine and immediately caught everyone’s attention from that point onward. At sixteen years old, he has exquisite vibrato and tonal quality. It was commented, that memorizing all three movements in itself was impressive and for him to deliver this music so effortlessly was really inspiring.
Mendelssohn wrote this piece for one particular violinist, who was a friend and also concertmaster of the orchestra that Mendelssohn conducted. Written over the span of about six years, this music was finally finished in 1844. The music may have existed for more than a century, but this recent rendition was vibrant and fresh. In 2018, it is still a favorite among violinists and concert-goers alike. The combination of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra and violinist, Richard Cho was beautiful throughout the entire piece. Although Mr. Cho is probably at a much younger age than Mendelssohn’s friend who inspired the piece, I think both he and the composer would be pleased at its remarkably mature delivery Tuesday night. Shown is a photo, at the completion of the concerto, of Conductor Dr. Richard Prior shaking hands with guest artist, Richard Cho.
Next on the program was Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, in D Major (Titan). The composer’s musical intention was that the first movement sound like a “voice of nature”. It was undeniably delicate, like waking up gently and being in no hurry for anything except the experience. It sounded very much alive and soothingly aware. Music has been proven to improve our health and well-being – as to which, researchers are finding ways to incorporate it into healthcare routines. In this same fashion this Symphony had rejuvenating life affirmation. Beautiful musical images began to be revealed throughout the first movement. The second movement, while rhythmically different and the third, turning to a minor key, were both travelling through various encounters, yet still, with no haste. The most dramatic was the fourth movement, in which the concert notes say Mahler’s instructions request “stormy motion.” With thunderous percussion, and refreshing theme, again this music had a restorative nature to it. The positive energy, from hearing this music in a live venue, along with a brilliantly happy ending, felt rewarding and gave a feeling of optimism. It’s no wonder this music is so popular among listeners and musicians. Audience members are uplifted and the musicians are given a wonderful sense of accomplishment – the LSO musicians and conductor Dr. Richard Prior, in particular. Tuesday’s Mahler performance was top-level. Well done, and thank you.
If you have not heard the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra lately don’t delay any longer as you are missing out. The performance standard has always been high with the LSO, but in recent years it has increased even more. How wonderful to have a Maestro and musicians who are willing to keep improving their own individual capacity, and to push their limits. This is a sign of a healthy relationship within the LSO community. You, as a patron and supporter are a major factor in this performance standard. Your support is the catalyst in creating effective and interesting programming. We each want to improve our own individual soundness and what better way than with music that is good for the body and soul.
It was announced at the concert that the 2018-2019 season will mark the beginning of a new five-year contract for Conductor and Artistic Director Richard Prior. This is wonderful news! Under his direction, the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra has grown in stature and acclaim with programming that is innovative and collaborative. We are all looking forward to what he has in store for us next season.
Here are a few more photos from the concert.