Conducted by adjunct lecturer in music Jim Tiller, the Geneseo Symphony Orchestra presented a moving performance on Sunday Oct. 18. The event was the orchestra’s first of five performances this year.
The first piece of the night was Robert Schumann’s “Concerto in A Minor for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 54.” This work consisted of three movements entitled “Allegro affettuoso,” “Intermezzo: Andantino grazioso” and “Allegro vivace,” respectively. During the first half of this performance, professor of music Jonathan Gonder accompanied on the piano.
Schumann’s approach to the concerto format is quite different from most of the classical and romantic period composers; the piano and orchestra in his pieces are more frequently collaborators rather than competitors.
Schumann uses a compositional technique called “thematic transformation” in this concerto, which is when the same melodic idea that is announced at the beginning of the work is continually modified as it reappears. This system has a unifying effect on the piece.
The second half of the showcase began with Ottorino Respighi’s “Fountains of Rome” which had four movements named for fountains: “The Valle Giulia at Dawn,” “The Triton Fountain at Morn,” “The Trevi at Midday” and “The Villa Medici Fountain at Sunset.”
Respighi was an Italian composer and musicologist, best known for “Fountains of Rome,” “Pines of Rome” and “Roman Festivals.” “Fountains of Rome” illustrates significant landmarks in the city of Rome and has become one of the most renowned and distinguished examples of the symphonic poem.
The symphony orchestra closed their performance with Maurice Ravel’s “Boléro.” Many may have recognized this piece, as it grew very popular in the media and has been played in several feature films and TV shows including The Amazing Spider-Man 2, “Star Trek” and “Doctor Who.”
“Boléro” is a very complex piece. There is a disconnection between the simplicity of the theme and the high levels of difficulty for performers. For example, the woodwinds play harmonies that are difficult to tune and maintaining the single, steady rhythm for a long period of time is a feat in and of itself for each performer.
This iconic piece utilizes the concept of two themes being repeated without variation over a steady rhythm, gradually rising to the piece’s climax. “Boléro” originally premiered at the Paris Opera in 1928 and received overwhelmingly positive reviews.
The enthusiastic applause following this performance appeared to grant Geneseo’s Symphony Orchestra similar recognition. The audience boasted many Geneseo students, family members, as well as President Denise Battles and her husband.
Overall, the orchestra offered a very touching and inspiring performance to the Geneseo community.