Final Academy Chambers Orchestra Concert Highlights Senior Concerto Winners Michelle Koh ’17 and Will Wang ’17

As the cellos and the basses kicked off with short strokes of their bows, french horns suddenly brightened the tone with two resolute beats joined by the sound of flutes quickly fluttering over the orchestra with light and spirited notes.

The Academy Symphony Orchestra performed this piece, Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 5 in D minor Op. 47,” in the Academy Orchestras Concert last Friday in the Cochran Chapel. This performance was part of the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, Academy Chamber Orchestra, and the Academy Symphony Orchestra’s last concert of the year showcasing the repertoire they had prepared all term.

Directed by Elizabeth Aureden, Instructor in Music, the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra opened the night with Bloch’s “Concerto Grosso No. 1 for String Orchestra and Piano Obbligato.” The whole orchestra moved in unison as they all sustained very accented, high notes followed by a series of lower and shorter notes. With a definitive bowing from the violins, the entirety of the group suddenly descended quickly down a minor scale.

“Out of the movements we played, I think the fourth was my favorite because it created a lot of discord. I thought that the whole entire piece was important to all of us because it was one of Dr. Aureden’s father’s most favorite pieces. We played it and her father actually attended so we were like, ‘Oh, we can’t mess up now.’ After the amount of time we spent on it and the stories Dr. Aureden told us about it, it holds emotional significance to all of us now,” said Julia Zhu ’20, a performer.

The Academy Symphony Orchestra performed under the direction of Christina Landolt, Instructor in Music, and played “Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35” by Tchaikovsky, featuring Senior concerto winner Will Wang ’17 on the violin. As Wang introduced a playful melody of ascending notes going on and off the beat interchangeably, the orchestra quietly complimented him with a series of short and low notes in the background.

“My parents are big into classical music so it was always playing the house. I was a little toddler probably the first time I heard it so I grew up listening to it and it was one of my favorite pieces. It was technically too hard for me when I was young but I started it three months ago and it’s a really fun piece. It’s kind of a hard piece if you don’t have that much experience playing concertos because a lot of the musical ideas and the phrasings are pretty advanced and hard to interpret,” said Wang.

Conducted by Derek Jacoby, Instructor in Music, the Academy Chamber Orchestra featured senior concerto winner and cellist Michelle Koh ’17 in the final movement of the “Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104” by Dvorak. As the piece reached the climax, Koh played deep, rich tones, repeatedly slowing her bow down with each following stroke, as the orchestra behind her gained speed and crescendoed to a dramatic and resonating final note.

“Though it is a technically challenging piece in some ways, it’s an emotionally challenging piece as well because it’s the finale of this huge concerto. Unlike the first concerto, it’s technically really elaborate and showy. This one sort of brings together all of the musical themes and motifs and it expresses it all in this giant emotional finale. So trying to fine tune that and polish so that I was communicating this really triumphant and beautiful theme through all of these musical choices took a lot of time and listening to a lot of artists and discussing with my teacher,” said Koh.

The Academy Chamber Orchestra also performed Handel’s “Concerto Grosso in F Major, Op. 3, No. 4.” The violins boldly played out an energetic set of high notes and quickly created and resolved discord by changing keys, repeating the same connected melody over and over again.  

“Handel was definitely my favorite. I thought that the way that we listened to each other and the way that we watched the conductor and it was just a great way to stay with the group all the time because it really took not just physical and technical ability but it also took mental capability and knowledge to understand when to be softer, when my section had to be louder and play out. It’s just a really interesting way to study the dynamics of our group and learn more about each other,” said Shyan Koul ’19, a performer.