The Peabody Symphony Orchestra had a succesful first concert of the year after only about a month of practicing. Their first concert was certainly a forerunner to an impressive season. The music was carefully chosen and filled with contrasting styles and different textures keeping the audience on their toes.
It began with the lively, impressive "Roman Carnival Overture" by Hector Berlioz. The opening was energetic and technically difficult, but soon switched to a more lyrical style.
Through the fast sections, their full, rich sound filled the hall, however, as the style switched, the sound changed as well.
During the slower section, the sound thinned and was propelled by the English horn soloist. Then, with a seamless transition back into the showy technical melody of the beginning, they ended the first piece with style.
After the overture, the entire orchestra changed - the size of the ensemble decreased in order to provide a lighter setting for the guitar soloist.
The second piece was a four-movement guitar concerto by Roberto Sierra. It had a definite Spanish feel and the irregular time signatures kept the audience on their toes. The soloist, Manuel Barrueco, had incredible technique.
Each movement had a different style: the first sounded Spanish, utilizing drums and brass; the second had a pleasant, simple melody, compounded by Barrueco's fast fingers; the third had a sort of waltz feel; and the fourth movement seemed incredibly difficult to coordinate - it exhibited virtuosity on the part of the soloist and individual members of the orchestra, and every time the style shifted, they were always in sync.
The last piece was Robert Schumann's "Symphony No. 2 in C Major." They started the first movement with a rich, dark tone and built up the sound during the dramatic, loud sections.
Then the second movement was a scherzo. It was energetic and light, which makes sense, since scherzo means joke.
When the texture thinned, the quality was still excellent, which is sometimes difficult for young musicians.
The third movement was a slower adagio section that involved the wind players alternating with the string players, and the fourth movement was a triumphant vivace, involving a full texture and dotted rhythms.
Overall the music was well-performed in addition to well-programmed.
No concert is perfect, and there are always ways to improve. However, after only a month, the Peabody Symphony Orchestra certainly has learned to play well as a group.
The members of the Symphony Orchestra are usually enrolled in graduate programs and are looking for careers in music. These are the musicians whose names will be found in the rosters of major symphony orchestras around the world one day, and you can tell they've already learned so much.
While playing, every student's face reflected the style of the music. For the string players, their bowings were synchronized; for the winds, the tone qualities all matched and blended well.
Before transitions and even just in general, they all looked at each other and at the conductor to ensure that they stayed together. Most important, however, they all looked as though they completely enjoyed the music. After devoting their lives to it, it's nice to know that they really are happy.
Often the mental picture of a conservatory is of a group of incredibly antisocial people who lock themselves in practice rooms for hours on end, but the musicians did not reflect this stereotype at all.
Tonight's performers were a group of incredibly talented students who love what they are doing. That made the concert even more enjoyable.
Jeffrey Sharkey, director of the Peabody Institute, wrote at the beginning of the program, "When you attend a student concert at Peabody, you are among the first anywhere to hear some of tomorrow's best professional musicians."
If you have any appreciation for classical music, never fear: There will be many more concerts.
This year marks Peabody's 150th anniversary. What better way to celebrate the realization of George Peabody's vision than with a concert as infused with such technique and passion as this.