By Tehya Wachuta, Editor-in-Chief Originally published in Issue 7, Volume 32 of The University Register on Friday, December 6, 2019

On Monday, November 25, the UMM Chamber Orchestra opened their 2019-2020 season with their first concert. This was Dr. Eric Olson’s premiere performance with the Chamber Orchestra, and it showcased the talents of the students with three pieces, each drawing from a different style of chamber orchestra repertoire.

The concert began with George Gershwin’s “Prelude No. 2.” This piece was originally composed as a piano prelude, but was arranged for string orchestra. It had a slow, mellow vibe that had me thinking of a forest at dusk — beautiful, mysterious, and enticing. It was a strong opening to the concert, and it featured the orchestra’s ability to pack emotion and elegant sound into a quieter piece.

The second piece was Henry Eccles’ “Sonata in G Minor.” This piece featured Dr. Ben Osterhouse as a cello soloist. It consisted of four movements: an opening largo followed by a more energetic corrente, which transitioned into a more reserved adagio, and finished with a quick and passionate presto. Osterhouse’s solo was beautiful and mesmerising; he played the piece with the skill and ardor it deserved, and the chamber orchestra did a wonderful job of balancing their complex sound with his solo. They supported Osterhouse without overshadowing him, finding the perfect middle ground to deliver a full, balanced sound to the audience.

The concert closed with Felix Mendelssohn’s "String Symphony No. 10 in B Minor,” which Mendelssohn composed at the age of 14. The piece consisted of three parts: an adagio with slow, elegant harmonics and abrupt color changes; an allegro with a few themes which developed individually throughout the section and included a few interesting key changes; and a piu presto that acted as an energetic and engaging finale. The piece showcased a recurring theme that evolved throughout its duration, providing a fluid backbone to the symphony’s sound.

Overall, the concert was a highly engaging opening to the Chamber Orchestra’s season. The selection of music allowed the students to display their talents in three different styles of orchestra repertoire, which provided the audience with an entertaining and diverse sample of chamber orchestra music. Their next concert will be Monday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the HFA Recital Hall, and I highly encourage all of our readers to attend.

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