On Tuesday, May 2, the 70 students of the University Orchestra will combine their wide variety of talents with a range of instruments to produce a harmony of sounds first heard as early as the 17th century. The performance will take place on the Main Stage of the Staller Center for the Arts at 8 p.m..
The music that will be performed comes from 19th century composers Alexander Borodin, a Russian romanticist composer, and Antonin Dvorak, the second Czech composer to achieve worldwide recognition. Composers Paule Maurice and Sir Edward Elgar will also be recognized.
The soloist of the night’s concert is Dasha Nenartovich, an alto saxophonist and winner of the 2017 Stony Brook University Undergraduate Concerto Competition. Dasha has performed as a saxophonist at a number of events including the Imani Winds Summer Music Festival and the NYU Summer Saxophone Quartet, according to the concert pamphlet, illustrating her wealth of knowledge and experience with her instrument and performing for a crowd.
Susan Deaver, who will direct the concert, has been a conductor of the Stony Brook University Orchestra since 2000 and has experience in conducting orchestras in Europe and Asia. She was also a guest conductor at the International Music Festival at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul, South Korea.
“The students that will be performing in the concert have played with the orchestra all year and the music changed in accordance to what I believed was the most appropriate for the students who have a wide range of talents,” Deaver said.
The students had begun working on new music that was introduced to them after their last concert in February. Practicing classical music by renowned 19th century composers over the course of nearly three months every Tuesday as well as outside rehearsal is sturdy work, but the students have, by now, grasped the technicalities of the music.
“We practice once a week on Tuesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in preparation for this concert. It is very rigorous,” Deaver said. In addition to those rehearsals, students practice on their own throughout the week.
Rourke Feinberg, a junior history major who plays in the first violin section, said he felt comfortable with the progress the orchestra has made.
“Everything is going alright,” he said. “Everyone is playing well, and if there are any problems with the music, Ms. Deaver would certainly address it.”
Overall, an orchestra is stronger when the players have a high level of confidence in their conductor.
“As we continue playing, the connection to the music grows gradually,” Feinberg added.
“The music is fine. Not too easy, but not too hard either,” William Roh, a fifth-year physics major and trumpet player, said. He has played with the orchestra for four consecutive years. “From the time we are introduced to the music, slowly you would feel connected overtime. I don’t feel emotional about it, but I feel connected in a sense.”
However, the bass players had a sharper perspective on the music. Jake Stanton, a freshman music performance major on the pre-med track, and Jonathan Gorman, a freshman physics major, said that the music is simple.
“The pieces are easy because they are contemporary pieces and are a little too modern,” Stanton said.
Contemporary classical music came about during a period of change and development in musical language at the turn of the 20th century. This era did not have a dominant style as opposed to the Classical era from 1750 to 1820, so highly diverse types of music were developed.
One of the pieces in the performance, the Tableaux de Provence, was composed between 1948 and 1955 for alto saxophone and orchestra in dedication to French saxophone virtuoso Marcel Mule. However, it is the only piece in the program that could be classified as contemporary classical music; all other pieces came before this period.
Although every section of the orchestra has specific parts to play, lower sounding instruments like the bass usually have easier roles. Lower sounding instruments like the bass provide background music that adds to the overall harmony of the piece.
“The lower pitched sounding instruments would usually get easier music notes than the rest,” Roh said.
Tickets are being sold at the Staller Center Box Office for $5 for students and $10 for adults.