Schubert to Schumann: Academy Bands and Orchestras Perform Group Pieces

With eyes fixed on their sheet music, the clarinetists of L’Insieme di Martedi Sera swayed along to the lilting minor melody of Reinhold Gliére’s “Russian Sailor’s Dance.” In an abrupt transition, the volume, pitch, and speed of the music climbed as musicians began to play the melody, with the trumpets blaring the main theme of the song. The piece continued to fluctuate between loud melodies and soft, melancholic themes before ending with a frenzied flourish.

“It had different beats. It had everything going for it: it had the drums, it had the flutes, it had the clarinets, it had just so much. It was uplifting — that’s how I felt about it — very uplifting. It kind of woke me up, not that I was sleeping… but it made me feel like I was part of what was happening,” said Augustina Olafimihan P’22.

“Russian Sailor’s Dance” opened the Academy Orchestras and Bands Concert held last Friday during Family Weekend in Cochran Chapel. The concert featured the L’Insieme di Martedi Sera, Concert Band, and Academy Symphony Orchestra, which consists of the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra and the Academy Chamber Orchestra.

Shortly after the first piece, the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra performed Soon Hee Newbold’s “Orion and the Scorpion,” featuring violin soloist Kenichi Fujiwara ’22 and cello soloist Amy Chung ’22. The piece began with a powerful cello melody and a subtle,  high-pitched melody by the violins. It quickly transformed into an energetic melody of staccato notes followed by long, gloomy melodies that gradually increased in sound and depth, a prominent theme throughout the piece.

Kobe Gyamfi ’22, one of the violinists in the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, said, “I really liked [“Orion and the Scorpion”]… It had a lot of beat and soul, and it felt like it told a story. It was fun to come together to play a song that I really enjoyed and to share it with everyone.”

The Academy Chamber Orchestra also performed select movements from Leos Janacek’s “Idyll for String Orchestra” and Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, D. 485. “Idyll for String Orchestra” contained various melodic phrases that gradually increased in pitch as the piece progressed. In stark contrast, the symphony featured a rapid, exhilarating pace and multiple cadenzas.

“My favorite piece at this concert was definitely the Schubert Symphony No. 5. It’s just one of those pieces you fall in love with the first time you hear it. It’s quite difficult to keep together because the piece is supposed to come off as relaxed and almost nonchalant, so the extra hard work the orchestra and Dr. [Derek] Jacoby [Instructor in Music and Conductor of the Academy Symphony and Chamber Orchestra] put into it is another reason why I particularly enjoy playing [it],” said Angelreana Choi ’19, a flutist in the Academy Concert Band and the Chamber and the Symphony Orchestras.

In addition, the Academy Symphony Orchestra played two movements of “Capriccio Espagnol,” Op. 34, by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The piece began with a string of choppy bow strokes but progressed to a connected symphony of all the instruments.

“It’s the fastest and most technically challenging piece,” said Emmeline Song ’20, a violinist in the Academy Chamber and Symphony Orchestra.

“It was wonderful… hearing everyone’s instruments fusing together into one. Hearing all the sounds meld together is so cathartic and beautiful, and I don’t have to think about anything else in my life for a couple moments,” continued Song.

The concert allowed students to showcase not only their command of their instruments but also their musical expression with the diverse moods and emotions of each piece. According to Jacoby, the concert was a success.

“The students brought a lot of energy that they didn’t always have in rehearsals. They’re in front of an audience and, all of a sudden, they play with lots of energy and excitement. Just helping the students hear the music and express the music better is a nice, fun thing for me personally,” said Jacoby.