The university orchestra has performed Delius’s “La Calinda” and Kabalevsky’s “Colas Breugnon” in past years. courtesy University of Tulsa

University Symphony Orchestra delievers animated performance

The group performed Weber, Beethoven and Grieg in their fall concert.

On Monday, Oct. 28, the University of Tulsa Symphony Orchestra had its first concert of the year. The performance included the overture to “Der Freischütz” by Carl Maria von Weber, “Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor” by Ludwig van Beethoven and “Norwegian Dances” by Edvard Grieg.

Richard Wagner, TU’s Director of Instrumental Ensembles and Associate Professor of Music, conducted the program. Dr. Roger Price, a Professor of Music (Piano and Composition) and Coordinator of Piano Studies, was the piano soloist for the concerto.

Overall, the concert was enjoyable. Wagner showed appropriate animation in his conducting, sometimes giving away what was to come.

The “Der Freischütz” Overture was engaging with its constantly changing themes. Because it is part of an opera, the overture tells the story of “The Free Shooter” or “The Marksman,” as the name translates.

Weber has said that “Der Freischütz” is about “an old hunter in the service of a Prince wants to give his loyal assistant, Max, the hand of his daughter, Agathe, and also appoint him his successor.”

He continues, saying that Max must prove his worth in a shooting test, but misses every shot in practice. A hunter’s assistant, Kaspar, offers Max “magic bullets” that will hit their mark. The catch is that the last bullet is intended to kill Agatha, but winds up killing Kaspar instead, providing for a happy ending.

For Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor,” the orchestra was reduced with one woodwind on each part, two french horns, two trumpets and timpani.

I did not find “Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor” as enjoyable as the other two pieces because it quickly became repetitive and boring. Price showed his mastery of the piano with his accurate and expressive arpeggios, but the recurrence of the arpeggios became monotonous.

The Baroque style chords played by the orchestra did not add texture or excitement. The other flaw with this piece was the woodwinds. They seemed to be unfamiliar with the piece and did not play confidently.

My favorite piece of the concert was Grieg’s “Norwegian Dances,” which were inspired by traditional Norwegian folk tunes. Grieg originally wrote the dances as a piano duet, but in 1888, it was orchestrated by Hans Sitt.

There were four dances varying slightly in style but maintaining a common theme. The first, third and fourth dances begin fast, move into a slow section and then repeat the original fast part. The second dance reverses this with a slow part first, a fast part second and the slow part again at the end.

For those wanting to hear more from the TU Symphony Orchestra, their next concert will be next semester on Feb. 24. There are also many other ensembles in the School of Music including Cappella Chamber Singers, TU Chorale, TU Wind Ensemble and TU Symphonic Winds. The TU Symphony Orchestra is just one of the many ensembles in the School of Music. Concerts for these groups and other music events can be found on the School of Music calendar.

Post Author: Michaela Bueche