As the violins climbed to an impossibly high note, members of the Academy String Orchestra struggled to hold back laughter. While the humour of the note went undetected by the audience, that moment at the end of the orchestra’s rendition of George Gershwin’s “Lullaby for String Quartet” was one of the most memorable moments for the performers in last Friday night’s Academy Orchestras Concert.
“There is a moment at the end of Gershwin’s ‘Lullaby’ when the violins play a note that always sounds like a pained squawk, not because of their lack of talent, but because the note is very high. During the performance, I could see that everyone was straining not to giggle after that note, and it was our own little joke. I even saw an elderly woman in the back of the chapel adjust her hearing aid,” said Karissa Kang ’17, a cello player in the String Orchestra.
The Academy Orchestras Concert was held in the Cochran Chapel and featured performances by the Academy Chamber Orchestra and the Academy Symphony Orchestra, in addition to the Academy String Orchestra. In total, the concert included nine songs which varied in their genre and tempo, as well as the time period in which they were composed. The mix of songs also included several scores from popular movies, such as “Pirates of the Caribbean” by Klauss Badelt, “King Kong” by James Newton Howard and “Star Wars” by John Williams.
A highlight of the Academy Symphony Orchestra’s rendition of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18” was a piano solo by Seho Young ’15. Although the piano blended smoothly and seemingly effortlessly with the rest of the orchestra, a lot of practice was needed to obtain the desired harmony.
Alison Nunes ’17, who plays the violin in the Academy String Orchestra, said, “The orchestra had to be sure to watch [Peter Orent, the conductor,] because the orchestra was accompanying Young. If Young changed tempo, [we] needed to respond accordingly. Also, the orchestra had to be sure not to drown out the piano. There are approximately 60 people in the full orchestra, so we had to be more self-conscious about how loudly we played.”
Adding a youthful and cinematic twist to the night, the String Orchestra performed “The Incredibles” theme song by Michael Giachino. In contrast with some other pieces in the show that had slow and quiet beginnings, the performers launched into this piece with full concentration and energy, resulting in a rousing, lively performance. “The Incredibles” was a favorite song among both the performers and Christina Landolt, Instructor in Music, Co-Director of the orchestra and conductor for that particular piece. Kang said, “My favorite piece to play was ‘The Incredibles.’ [Landolt], a mischievous former Andover student herself, would always kid around with us, telling us not to play like [the] jaded, middle-aged superheroes [featured in “The Incredibles” movie]. The orchestra had a wonderful time learning the piece.”