The Conway Symphony Orchestra kicked off its 2013-14 season with an ‘Opening Night’ performance at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 in Reynolds Performance Hall.
The CSO began with “Overture to Egmont, Op. 84” by Ludwig van Beethoven. The piece is based on “a historical drama writing by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,” according to the performance notes. ‘Egmont,’ the drama, conveys Goethe’s “idealism and passion for political and individual freedom,” all while revolving around Lamoral, Count of Egmont, who fought against the Spanish Inquisition in the Netherlands.
The piece started with “snarling minor chords,” meant to symbol Spanish rule. The central theme conveyed a general, relaxed tone, while the last segment, “Victory Symphony,” was grand in its sound, supposedly symbolizing the abolishment of the Inquisition in the Netherlands.
The second piece was the fourth movement of Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No. 5,” also known as the “Adigietto” segment of the symphony. While the rest of Mahler’s symphony is filled with more intense orchestration, this segment was written to act as a “counterpoint to the loud brassiness of the preceding three movements, supplying the comfort that has heretofore bee lacking.” Strings and a harp were the only instruments used during the performance.
The third and final piece of the night was the entire “Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47” by Dmitry Shostakovich. The 45-minute performance includes four parts, all of them in Russian and Soviet influence. With a slow, broad start, the symphony moves into a “lopsided waltz” tone that soon dissolves into a somber melody filled with solos in flute, oboe and xylophone. The final segment parallels a Russian military march “blaring in the approved ‘Socialist Realism’ style,” according to the performaance notes. Audience members erupted in applause at the end of the final performance.
Trumpet player and sophomore Will Yandell said he’s very proud of the CSO and how it performed that night.
“That Shostakovich piece is no walk in the park for anybody,” Yandell said. “Even though tension and nerves were high, we put down a solid performance and the energy was palpable. The several minutes of applause were nothing if not an indication of success.”
Yandell said rehearsals have been stressful and that everyone worked very hard in order to pull the concert off.
“I’m very excited for the rest of the season,” he said. “I love the Christmas concert, and we have some big pieces we are tackling for next semester. We are so lucky to be hosting some world class soloists and I honestly think this could be the best season CSO has ever seen.”
Flutist and senior Kayla Copeland said the concert went well and that she will always remember it.
“Of course this concert would not have been possible without the help of professor Feoff Robson, our personal studio teachers and the professional musicians who played with us,” Copeland said.
The next CSO performance is Dec. 7 and will “celebrate the season” with highlights from “The Nutcracker.” Along with the Arkansas Festival Balet, the CSO will also perform with the Central Arkansas Children’s Choir. The performance will be at 7:30 p.m. in Reynolds Performance Hall.