The Gibbs Street Chamber Orchestra, established and run by students at the Eastman School of Music, will give its first performance tomorrow, Jan. 26, at 9 p.m. On the program are Beethoven?s ?Seventh Symphony? and Maurice Ravel?s ?Mother Goose Suite.? This concert will take place in Kilbourn Hall and be the first orchestral performance of Eastman students this year.
The Gibbs Street Chamber Orchestra is the brainchild of four Eastman juniors, including myself.
?Organizing a full orchestra concert presents many difficulties and many opportunities,? said founding member and principal cellist Jonathan Brin.
?It gives us the freedom to program our own music and choose our own players, but it leaves us with the responsibility of working out schedules, securing a venue and handling all the logistical details that go into making a concert of this scale successful,? he said.
Programming music for this concert was not a simple task. We had to make sure that the music would be suitable for a small chamber orchestra ? we have approximately 40 players. This basically eliminates the choices of the huge symphonies of Mahler or Brahms, preludes by Wagner or tone poems by Strauss.
We wanted to choose music that would be exciting and engaging for the orchestra members to play as well as for the audience members to hear. This prevents us from programming pieces like the skillfully composed but often dully repetitive Haydn or early Mozart symphonies.
If you come to our concert tomorrow, I think you?ll agree that we found a very happy medium in the Beethoven and Ravel. Our principal violist, Jaime Arrowsmith, said, ?Beethoven?s Seventh is my favorite of all his symphonies.? I have heard many other orchestra members echo his sentiment.
This doesn?t surprise me, as this work is probably Beet- hoven?s most timeless, facile piece of orchestral music. Nick- named ?The Apotheosis of the Dance? by Wagner, movements one, three and four are each as energetic and uplifting as any piece of music I?ve yet heard.
However, it?s the beguiling second movement that won listeners over at the symphony?s premiere in 1812 and continues to enchant both musicians and non-musicians alike. Oscillating between a steady, persistent minor theme shared by all sections of the orchestra and a sweet major melody played by the woodwinds, this movement is the gem of the symphony.
?Mother Goose Suite,? by the French impressionistic composer Ravel, provides a relaxing contrast to the Beethoven. Originally composed as a piano piece for his young godchildren to play, the suite is a simple and enchanting musical interpretation of several fairy tales.
This magical collage of music, inspired by tales such as ?Beauty and the Beast? and ?Tom Thumb,? brings the listener to a world of beauty and introspection. Ravel?s highly colorful orchestration, which includes inventive usage of the harp, percussion instruments and celeste, demonstrates why many consider him one of the most brilliant orchestrators ever.
The moral of our story ? if you?d like to hear some great music, come to this entirely student-created concert tomorrow evening.
Palmer is a junior at the Eastman School of Music and conductor of the Gibbs Street Chamber Orchestra.