Academy Orchestras Perform Playful and Contemporary “Baba Yaga” Concert

The Academy Symphony Orchestra performed a unique arrangement of “Pictures at an Exhibition,” alternating between movements composed by Modest Mussorgsky, Maurice Ravel, and Isao Tomita.

The Amadeus and Chamber Orchestras performed “4’33” by John Cage and “In C” by Terry Riley.

Children giggled as the electronic sounds of birds chirping resonated through Cochran Chapel, which was followed by the majestic sound of the solo piano playing the recurring theme, “Promenade,” from “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Modest Mussorgsky. Soon after, the strings, wind, and brass instruments joined in, with melodic lines intertwined between the orchestra and piano.

Last Sunday, the Amadeus, Chamber, and Symphony Orchestras played in the Fall term Academy Orchestras concert. The musical program was relatively experimental, with one of the pieces being “4’33” by John Cage — a performance of four minutes and 33 seconds of silence. Following “4’33,” the Amadeus and Chamber Orchestras played “In C” by Terry Riley, a piece featuring 53 musical motifs that are played at random times. Audience member Yoll Feng ’27 appreciated the unique aspects of the concert.

“I really enjoyed [the performance] because it was innovative. They didn’t just stick to the traditional orchestra structure and [added] a lot of new elements to it that you wouldn’t typically expect… In the first [piece, performers] were mostly sitting there, silent, and then in the second [piece they] were doing all kinds of things and making all sorts of noises, it was really cool,” said Feng ’27.

The final piece, “Pictures at an Exhibition,” was originally composed in 1874 by Modest Mussorgsky as a piano solo, who was inspired by ​​Viktor Hartmann’s artwork. It was then arranged into an orchestral piece by Maurice Ravel in 1922 and an electronic music album by Isao Tomita in 1975. In the Symphony Orchestra’s rendition of “Pictures at an Exhibition,” each movement alternated between Mussorgsky, Ravel, and Tomita’s version of the piece. Children at the concert were encouraged to use their imagination and draw what the sounds “looked” like.

“It was very experimental. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it was kind of hard to follow… It was very powerful. There was a lot of emotion in the 30-minute piece,” said audience member Jonathan Oh ’27.

Because the overall program was exploratory and unique, according to percussionist Anny Wang ’26, the audience reaction was enjoyable to see as a performer.

“The audience was really in shock at first because of the electronic music and contemporary pieces… It was a very new experience for all of them. But then later on, I saw the audience appreciating [it] a ton and how we try new things [and] new styles. I saw a lot of the audience [members] smiling [and] I think the kids really liked it,” said Wang.

The concert was a cheerful way to wrap up Fall Term rehearsals, and people reflected on the concert at the jam-packed reception, which included foods like butter beer and strawberry mochi. Clarinetist Willy Park ’26 commented on how this concert stood out compared to previous ones.

“I liked that we got original T-shirts for the performance. It was pretty cool… I think we should have played more as a team, as an orchestra, because everyone is really talented musicians, but it only works when we all play together… In preparing, sometimes people have conflicts with their time and getting to rehearsal… It would be rough with some of the most important players missing, but everyone pulled it together and did it. It was a pretty good performance,” said Park.