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Purdue Orchestra offers Tchaikovsky and Bach as holiday treats
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Sometimes holiday treats come in the form of getting to perform favorite pieces of music. That will be the case Sunday, Dec. 10 when Purdue Symphony Orchestra maestro Andrew King conducts “Fifth Symphony,” his favorite work by Tchaikovsky, and two Purdue violin players get a treasured opportunity to be featured in Bach’s “Double Violin Concerto.”
The concert is set for 2:30 p.m. Dec. 10 in the Long Center, 111 N. Sixth St. Admission is free; no tickets required.
Concertmaster Carlos Kemeny, a senior from Provo, UT, and Asst. Concertmaster Aaron Ritter, a sophomore from Williams, IN, sit next to each other in rehearsals and feed off each other’s talent. Both consider being spotlighted in the Bach Concerto to be an early holiday gift.
Kemeny asked King before the orchestra season started to consider programming the piece and the conductor liked the idea. “Carlos and Aaron are fantastic musicians and I’m excited for everyone to get to hear them play,” says King.
“ It’s really interesting that Bach wrote this piece around 1730 for an orchestra much like Purdue’s, a collegium musicum orchestra in Leipzig where the students were not primarily musicians.” Kemeny and Ritter fit that description, respectively pursuing majors in chemical engineering and agriculture.
“With both violinists playing at the same time, the way they interact in the concerto is very conversational,” says King. “It varies from a sense of back and forth to imitative to line and response.”
Ritter feels the musical chemistry between the two violinists makes that conversation distinctive. “We communicate so well. We both feel the music in a similar way so it’s easier to intertwine the musical lines. We definitely feed off each other, and keep each other in check too,” he adds with a smile.
Kemeny says he and Ritter hope to create a special experience for the audience . “It is an incredible feeling, to open your heart musically and emotionally to an audience, hoping they will feel what you feel. When the performer and the audience connect, it is a universal language that transcends the barriers of spoken word, and penetrates the depths of the soul in a unique way,” he says.
When the orchestra presents Tchaikovsky’s “Fifth Symphony” on the Dec. 10 program, it marks the first time in many years the Purdue group has performed an entire symphony instead of specific movements. “Pieces like the Tchaikovsky are cyclical. Tchaikovsky specifically looked at the symphony (in all its movements) as one work that took you on a journey from beginning to end. It’s more satisfying to play the whole thing,” says King.
The conductor feels the “Fifth” is one of the best constructed works Tchaikovsky produced. “He’s known for his fantastic melodies and great tunes that are so memorable, but sometimes he wasn’t quite sure what to do with them,” King says.
“In the ‘Fifth’ he develops his ideas better than his other works. I really love it, and it’s really fun to play.”
Adding a contemporary interlude to the concert, the Purdue Orchestra will also perform Michael Schelle’s “Samurai.” Schelle, a professor at Butler University in Indianapolis, is one of the most played contemporary orchestra composers in the world.
He visited campus and helped the Purdue orchestra prepare “Samurai,” which was written in memory of the legendary Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa, for the Dec. 10 performance.
Kurosawa’s most noted film was “Seven Samurai.” Schelle’s “Samurai” is “rhythmic and easy to listen to,” says King. “He’s done a lot of film composing and it influences what Schelle does with art music. There’s a lot of musical layering and one section imitates Kodo drumming.”
The Purdue Symphony Orchestra’s concert is sponsored by Purdue Bands & Orchestra. Its next concert occurs on March 4th.
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