Symphony Orchestra enthralls audience with complex pieces from different composers

The Geneseo Symphony Orchestra performed on Sunday Oct. 14 in Wadsworth Auditorium. Leah McGray conducted the orchestra as they played a multitude of pieces by composers such as Franz Schubert, professor of music James Walker and Edvard Grieg. (Elijah Reed/Staff photographer)

The Geneseo Symphony Orchestra performed on Sunday Oct. 14 in Wadsworth Auditorium. Leah McGray conducted the orchestra as they played a multitude of pieces by composers such as Franz Schubert, professor of music James Walker and Edvard Grieg. (Elijah Reed/Staff photographer)

The Geneseo Symphony Orchestra, conducted by coordinator of instrumental activities Leah McGray, affected the hearts and minds of many audience members with a moving and beautiful performance on Sunday Oct. 14.

The concert’s theme, “Unfinished,” signified that some of the pieces were not completed or always changing. McGray chose the theme to emphasize that performers always learn. McGray also chose pieces that told a narrative story and evoked emotion to fit the theme. 

The first piece they played was “Symphony No. 8 ‘Unfinished’” composed by Franz Schubert, who never finished creating the rest of his movement. 

The orchestra played the first movement, “Allegro moderato,” which is described as “melancholy,” according to the program. 

The next piece the orchestra played was “Scamper” composed by distinguished service professor of music James Walker. Walker describes the piece as a third “iteration” of another piece he wrote years ago, according to the program.

Psychology major sophomore Kristen Nalecz enjoyed playing the piece, but felt it was the most the difficult to play.

“[‘Scamper’] is just very odd sounding. It’s kind of dissonant, meaning it didn’t always sound pleasing to the ear,” Nalecz said. “It was kind of different and it was hard to pick up all the different musical ideas going on.”

The third piece was “Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Opus 46” composed by Edvard Grieg. Nalecz stressed that the third movement, “Anitra’s Dance,” was her favorite to play.

“I think it’s a really fun piece to play,” Nalecz said. “It’s fun. It’s light and it was kind of challenging but not too hard.”

Biology major senior Evelyn Welch believed Grieg’s piece was the most challenging because of its four stylistically different movements. 

“I think the Greig was the most challenging because between the four movements the style and the character changed so much,” Welch said. “During the pause between each movement you really had to take that time to understand what the composer wanted out of each separate section. That’s challenging, especially with the adrenaline going.”

The final piece of the concert was “Academic Festival Overture, Opus 80” composed by Johannes Brahms. The song was written for the University of Breslau and was created based on drunken songs students sang, according to the program.

Welch’s favorite piece was the Brahms number because of the memories it brought back to her.

“I think the Brahms Academic Festival was definitely my favorite. I was in a youth orchestra back at home, so I played it probably six to eight years ago,” Welch said. “I can’t remember exactly but I felt a lot of nostalgia; playing it with my best friends I’ve made over four years at Geneseo gave me a lot of feels. I really enjoy the camaraderie I felt from the music.”

Each piece sounded amazing and the theme of the concert created a sense of unity among songs. Students and faculty members dedicated their time to put on a stellar performance, and the concert displayed the love and hard work that stems from ensemble performances. 

“As a senior I kind of think of it as this is the only time I’m going to do this. I’m a bio major and I want to be a paramedic. Getting to sit on stage and do the thing you love with the people you love for four years is really good,” Welch said. “Just realizing that this is such a precious time that’s probably my favorite thing. Just treasuring the time that I have to do this.”

Nalecz echoed a similar sentiment, stressing the feeling of being surrounded by many people with the same goal.

“I like having the opportunity to play my instrument with other people. It’s really motivating when you’re with other people playing,” Nalecz said. “I love playing on my own too but when you’re in orchestra it’s part of a big thing.”