Honoring the 150th anniversary of the birth of American composer Amy Beach, the Geneseo Symphony Orchestra concert “Mother Tongue” was held on Sunday Feb. 25 in the Wadsworth Auditorium. The orchestra was under conductor and coordinator of instrumental activities Leah McGray.
“Mother Tongue” included two featured performers: trumpeter sophomore Samuel Dole and baritone senior Noah Chichester, who were 2018 Concerto Competition winners.
“Moldau,” part of Smetana’s set of six symphonic poems, “Ma Vlast,” started the concert off. Dole appreciated the beauty of this piece.
“It was a tone poem or symphonic poem by Smetana,” Dole said. “He’s trying to depict those beautiful scenes of flowing water and different times of the day and even include some mythology in there with dancing fairies … it sort of put the images in listeners’ heads.”
Secondly, the orchestra performed aria “Non piu andrai” from Mozart’s “Le nozze di Figaro,” which featured Chichester as a baritone singer. In Mozart’s opera, the piece is sung by the character Figaro. Chichester noted that he had enjoyed performing the piece.
“Figaro is an interesting character,” Chichester said. “I can be having fun during the performance and I’m allowed to look like I’m having fun while I’m doing it.”
Chichester did, however, find it difficult to take the song out of context from the opera.
“I was singing to someone who’s not there, so lacking that sort of character interaction that you would get if it was a staged production was definitely challenging at first,” he said. “But I think the great thing about Mozart is that it’s such great music that it doesn’t necessarily have to be married to the context of the opera.”
After Chichester’s featured performance, the orchestra played “Allegro con spirito” from Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto, which featured Dole on trumpet. Dole especially appreciated the song in its representation of his instrument.
“I just love the composition by Hummel’s the Trumpet Concerto for obvious reasons,” he said. “I play the trumpet and its really good trumpet repertoire in a world where there’s not a lot of that.”
Dole was also impressed by the pairing of pieces in the program as a whole.
“I love that McGray programmed [my piece] with Noah’s solo, because they were so similar in style,” he said. “It’s sort of that charming, bouncy, classical style.”
The orchestra then played Amy Beach’s Gaelic Symphony, which contains four movements—Allegro con fuoco, Alla Siciliana, Lento con molto espressione and Allegro di molto.
The piece is “super chromatic [with] very interesting harmonies, definitely sort of challenges the ear of anybody listening or playing it,” Dole said.
Violinist sophomore Emily Vanderbilt agreed that the Beach piece was challenging, but well synthesized.
“One thing that we worked on was interplay of sections, and I’m a violinist so I know specifically the play off the cello and violin section,” she said. “It’s a really balanced piece … sometimes pieces have really heavy violin melodies or something like that, but this was very balanced.”
The Geneseo Department of Music proved once again the talent and dedication of their participants. The next concert for the department is the Geneseo Wind Ensemble, which will take place on Friday March 2 in the Wadsworth Auditorium at 8 p.m.
Assistant arts and entertainment editor Amanda Sheps contributed reporting to this article.