With deliberate plucking movements, the cellists and double bassists of the Academy Symphony Orchestra played a repeating theme of low, quiet notes. As the piece progressed, the tempo of the piece gradually quickened to a rapid, whirlwind melody, creating a sense of frenzy in the fourth movement of Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46.”
This was one of six pieces performed by the Academy Symphony Orchestra, which is composed of the Academy Chamber Orchestra and the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, and Concert Band during their concert last Friday during Family Weekend in Cochran Chapel. The concert marked the first performance of the year featuring both the Academy Symphony Orchestra and Academy Concert Band.
In a collaborative piece, the Academy Symphony Orchestra and Academy Concert Band played the second movement of “Symphony No. 9 in E minor, ‘From the New World’, Op. 95” by Antonin Dvorak, popularly known as the “New World Symphony.” Beginning with a series of low, resonant notes, the piece carried a somber tone. As the band quieted, soloist Kaitlin Kan ’18 began playing a wistful melody on the English horn. Smooth notes dominated the movement, creating a sense of harmony between the two groups.
“This particular section of the piece is essentially Dvorak yearning to return home back to the Czech Republic. It’s kind of forlorn; but it has little bits and pieces of Native American melodies and folk songs and even some allusions to jazz. That juxtaposition between the American sounds and the very European structure of the symphony that he creates in recognition of his yearning to return home is interesting,” said Kan, an English horn and oboe player in the Academy Concert Band.
The Amadeus Chamber Orchestra performed Camille Saint-Saën’s “Danse Macabre, Op. 40.” The piece began with a repeating piano melody as the violinists held one continuous, quiet note. All of a sudden, Seamus Dallman ’20 played a series of dissonant notes on the violin, inciting a feeling of urgency and instability in the piece. Contrary to the primary haunting mood of the song, the piece concluded with one quiet and short note.
“‘Danse Macabre’ is actually particularly technical in that it doesn’t just use the traditional bow-on-string methods, but there’s a lot of pizzicato, [which are plucked notes]. Then the soloist even has to tune his violin down during the performance which is really uncommon in most songs. All in all, the piece requires heavy balance in between all the parts, especially the violin and cello relationship, and I feel that that was executed really well in last Friday’s concert,” said Nalu Concepcion ’19, a violinist in the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra.
In contrast with the grim tone of the previous composition, the Academy Chamber Orchestra performed the first movement of Ludwig Von Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 4 in B flat Major, Op. 60.” The jovial piece began with a slow, lengthy melody that gradually transitioned from a minor to major key. Throughout the piece, the violinists and cellists alternated playing the melody, creating a sense of dialogue between the two instruments.
“[The song] kept people on the edge of their seats, especially for the violins who were playing it because we were syncopated. It was a ping-pong table type of thing going on. The cellos played one note, and then we’d reply with another note, so we’d just go back and forth. It was just really interesting for me as a violinist because it was very fast and quick and it cycled through many emotions,” said Mae Zhao ’18, a violinist in the Academy Chamber Orchestra.