Musicians in the Academy Chamber Orchestra hovered the bows of their string instruments in the air as James Orent, Instructor in Music, let out a sharp breath and cued the final note of Leroy Anderson’s “Fiddle-Faddle.” As the audience applauded, several musicians on stage were visibly sweating. This was their first reprieve after three minutes of furious playing.
“Fiddle-Faddle” was performed as a part of the Academy Band and Orchestra Concert last Friday night in the Cochran Chapel. The concert featured a wide variety of modern and classical pieces.
“Fiddle-Faddle” began with an upbeat and loud melody. Halfway through the piece, the violins, violas and cellos plucked their strings rather than using a bow, creating a tentative tone. Percussion soon joined in, and the piece gathered a carefree mood.
“When [the student] first started playing it, they played it very straight, very stodgy. So it took a little convincing, because they weren’t used to playing jazz or fiddle tunes. It’s lighter, snappier, peppier. It has a certain relation that classical musicians are not famous for. But little by little, it began to grow. And they lightened up, and it was very helpful once we brought the percussion in and the bass players, because bass players naturally swing and play jazz and such,” said Orent.
The Academy Symphony Orchestra also performed the first movement of Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68,” also known as “Pastoral.” The performers’ large, dramatic bow strokes mirrored the swells in volume of the piece. These changes in volume and speed reflected the name of the movement, which translated from German, means “awakening of cheerful feelings upon arrival in the countryside.” For most of the rendition, one section of the orchestra would introduce a motif softly, before the rest of the orchestra repeated the entire section.
“This first movement is based on sunrise, and I guess the sound is sort of mimicking the opening, awakening of a quiet day. It’s the pastoral piece so it’s sort of natural and scenic, and he mimics a lot of bird calls,” said Will Baxter-Bray ’18, cellist in Academy Symphony Orchestra.
The concert concluded with the Academy Concert Band’s version of “Mars” from “The Planets” by Gustav Holst. The steady, marching tempo of the piece created an ominous mood. The piece started with a low and steady drum beat, mimicking a war drum. As the string and woodwind sections began to play, the tempo increased and the melody became repetitive. The instruments built up to the culmination of the piece both in volume and pitch, steadily getting higher and louder as the piece went on.
“It has a very dark feel in it; it’s definitely not very happy, but it’s really exciting to play because there were these really long runs. So that was kind of hard,” said Michelle Chao ’18, clarinetist in Academy Concert Band.