Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Concert Reviews - February 2013

Part of a series of reviews of concerts I attend. Select "Concert Reviews" from the list of labels in the sidebar to see all of them.


Wheaton College Artist Series
Hubbard Street Dance 2
Saturday, February 9
Edman Memorial Chapel, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois

The second half of the 2012-2013 Wheaton College Artist Series season began with the season’s collaborative event (the Series likes to have one such event every year). For this event, seven dancers from Hubbard Street 2, the second company of Hubbard Street Chicago, performed with live music from the Wheaton College Symphony Orchestra.
I had never seen a live modern dance performance (the dance events on the Artist Series I have seen, for example, have all been ballet or folk dance), and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Many of the pieces were original works of choreography by Hubbard Street artistic staff. And the orchestra sounded absolutely superb in their performance – the dancers and orchestra seemed to feed off each other’s energy all night long.

Art Intercepts had this review of the concert that I found a few days after.

Wheaton College Artist Series
China National Symphony Orchestra
Thursday, February 21
Edman Memorial Chapel, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois

Twelve days later, and we were at it again. The Wheaton College Artist Series welcomed China’s national symphony, the China National Symphony Orchestra, during their 30-concert tour of the United States. In the hall that evening were many members of the region’s Chinese-American media and the Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China in Chicago, Zhao Weiping.

Enough fun facts, and on to the music. CNSO was one of the finest orchestras I have ever heard, and thanks to my involvement with the Artist Series, I have heard quite a few from all over the world. Phrases like “incredible musical sensitivity” and “they are breathing the music” came to mind. Due to my Board duties that evening, I was only able to hear the first half, but that was definitely a treat.

The first half consisted of two works by Chinese composers. The concert opened with the First Movement of the Earth Requiem by Xia Guan, composed in commemoration of the devastation caused by a 2008 earthquake. CNSO gave a gorgeous performance of this work, with English horn and French horn solos rising from the flowing strings.

Up next was the “Butterfly Lovers” Violin Concerto by Zhanhao He and Gang Chen, with virtuoso Chuanyuan Li performing the solo part. The piece actually has two major solo roles, the other being played by the principal cellist. The concerto depicts the Chinese “Romeo and Juliet” story, with many exciting and dramatic (and surprising) mood shifts as the lovers’ tale progresses. Mr. Li seemed to have an infinite amount of energy and passion with which to perform, nearing knocking over the concertmaster’s stand at one point. His standing ovation at the close of the first half was very well deserved.
Wheaton College Symphonic Band
Winter Concert
Saturday, February 23
Edman Memorial Chapel, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois
The Wheaton College Symphonic Band
The Wheaton College Symphonic Band, of which I had been a part for seven semesters as an undergraduate, had recently performed at the Illinois Music Educators Association state conference in Peoria. They reprised their repertoire from that performance, as well as adding three pieces under the batons of three honors conductors. The result was a diverse program including transcriptions of works by orchestral Prokofiev, Wagner, and Copland and wind band works by Ronald Lo Presti, Eric Whitacre, and John Philip Sousa. It was a highly enjoyable concert, and very well-executed both technically and artistically by the band.

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