You could say that I was raised on classical music. Growing up, classical music was the only music that my dad ever played on the radio whenever he drove me places. Since my dad was my main chauffeur (sorry, mom, but dad gets this one), I spent a lot of my life listening to Mozart and Beethoven on repeat.
As I got older and my music tastes strayed from classical, my dad’s car soundtrack stayed the same. Although I have yet to admit it to him directly (maybe this can be considered my confession), I realize now that there is a fond place in my heart for classical music.
So attending the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra (HSO) performance this weekend was a surprisingly nostalgic experience for me, as it was a poignant reminder of my childhood, my home life and my dad.
The Bunting Meyerhoff Interfaith & Community Service Center held the last performance of the season with the HSO this Sunday, Feb. 23. The performance, like many of the orchestra’s other performances, was free and open to the public and offered an enjoyable and convenient activity to attend toward the end of the weekend.
The event began with pianist Ina Allen performing Claude Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1: Andantino con moto. Following Allen’s piano performance was Jan Koetsier’s “Brass Quintet,” with Jeremy Meeks and Steven Bailey on the trumpet, Piper Greenbaum on the horn and Jarrel Garner on the tuba.
There was a short intermission between these two performances and the next.
During the intermission, I scanned the room. I saw that attendance was quite high, and I soaked in the lively atmosphere of the audience.
During the performances, I had noticed some audience members nodding along to the music as it played, holding their breath at certain dips in the music, then gasping when a note was landed with force.
After the intermission, award-winning conductor Jordan Randall Smith gave a short speech, introducing himself and the HSO.
As described in the program, Smith is “an active supporter of new music” and has “a discography spanning six commercial releases and a history of commissions, leading over 40 world premieres.”
After his speech, he led the HSO in a performance of Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture, Op. 62.
As 2020 marks Beethoven’s 250th birthday, Smith expressed how particularly special it is to celebrate the composer now (although he also mentioned that Beethoven is always quite celebrated, whether or not it’s his 250th birthday).
The HSO then also performed Mozart’s Symphony No. 33, K. 319. As the final cap to the event, the HSO performed Piano Concerto in One Movement by Florence Price, with Elizabeth Hill, who is not only an accomplished soloist and chamber musician, but also an orchestral pianist and educator.
Price was an incredibly significant and accomplished figure in the field as she was the first African American woman to have had a symphonic composition played by a major orchestra. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, one of the world’s major orchestras, premiered her first symphony in 1933.
All the performances at this event were clearly excellent — even to my non-professional ears — and the audience gave the HSO an enthusiastic standing ovation as the event concluded.
I felt a certain, specific type of elation, almost like a reinvigoration, that one only experiences after a musical concert.
My only regret was that my dad did not join me in attending this event.