WU symphony orchestra hits the road

Brian Allen

When Thomas Dickey, Washburn University Symphony Orchestra Conductor, strikes up the band Oct. 16 in White Concert Hall, it really will be a homecoming for the orchestra. They are about to embark on a western Kansas tour that will take them to Garden City where they will perform at the Community Colleges’ Pauline Joyce Fine Arts Building Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m. Then they travel on to Fort Hays State University where they will repeat the program in the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center, Oct. 14 at 7:30p.m.

The tour program notes that the orchestra will be performing four main selections:

The Moldau, Symphonic Poem No. 2 from “My Fatherland.” was composed between 1874 and 1875 by Bedrich Smetana. Its symphonic poems recall Bohemian tales of the beautiful Czech countryside and follow streams as they flow through the woods, into rivers and past castle and feasts.

Slavonic Dances 1 & 4, Opus 46 was commissioned around 1886 and composed by Antonin Dvorak who drew upon on the rhythms of traditional Slavic music. It is a Bohemian country dance in slow triple time similar to a waltz.

Polovtsian Dances are the core of Alexander Borodin’s unfinished opera “Prince Igor.” The opera tells the story of prince Igor and his battle against a Mongol Khan. The ballet scene danced by slaves was meant to entertain the Khan and his prisoner the Prince. The opera was incomplete upon Borodin’s death in 1887.

Concerto for Horn in D major, K. 412 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is shorter in its duration with only two movements instead of the traditional three with a bigger emphasis on melody and phrasing. The performance includes a reconstruction of the Rondo by John Humphries.

Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Opus 15 premiered in Prague in 1798 with its composer Ludwig van Beethoven at the piano. It has influences of the classical and the revolutionary harmonic treatments characteristic of Beethoven’s style.

Musical Director Gamboa advises someone not familiar symphonic music to listen to the colors, “The ways different instruments are combined to create the endless color palette of the orchestral sound. Also, how melodies are passed around from one section of the orchestra to the next in order to create variety and excitement. Finally, how melodies and harmonies interact and support each other.”

If you are familiar with orchestral music Gamboa says you can look forward to, “The repertoire selections and the way all pieces in the program compliment and/or contrast each other as well as those same things the non-familiar listener listens for.

The WU Homecoming Concert, Fantastic Dances, will be the same as the tour program other than the solos. On tour, Washburn’s horn instructor, Mr. Curtis Vellenga will be the featured artist. For Homecoming they will feature WU 2005 alumna Clara Zhang on Beethoven’s Piano Concerto.

Enjoy the free music and welcome the Washburn Symphony Orchestra back home October 16, at White Concert Hall, 7:30 p.m. Gamboa says, “There are no bad seats, we have one of the best halls in the Midwest, however, the way sound waves tend to rise and project usually the higher seats closer to the back (balcony) allow a better listening experience.”

Music Director Norman Gamboa wants WU students to know, “Washburn has one of the most reputable and distinguished orchestra programs in the state, its performance quality is comparable to many professional orchestras. Among of its many accomplishments, our orchestra was the first American orchestra to tour and perform in Honduras, Central America. This week StarCity Recording Co. will be releasing the 35th anniversary DVD the rock band Kansas recorded with the Washburn Symphony. And finally, participation in the orchestra is open to any student on campus, we strongly encourage those interested to contact the Music Department.”