Washburn music department dazzles at chamber strings concert

Andrew Shermoen

Washburn’s music department held a concert this last Thursday at White Concert Hall. The concert was dedicated to the music department’s string students. Featuring several different groups from Washburn that practice the art of chamber orchestra and string instrumental pieces, the concert was a hit with students and audience members.

The concert started with the Fetter String Quartet, a student group featuring some of the best string artists in the department. The group performed the second movement from Alexander Borodin’s “String Quartet No. 2.” The second movement is titled as the “Scherzo-Allegro,” and the fast paced and excited tone of the movement certainly matches its name. The fast-paced tempo of the piece required immense discipline from the quartet who were praise by the audience after their performance.

The Washburn University String Orchestra then appeared performing four pieces with multiple soloists showcasing their personal talents. 18th-century virtuoso Tomaso Albinoni’s “Adagio in G minor” was a highlight from the ensemble. Featuring Tim Smale on organ the piece features methodical and repetitive melodies that highlight its contemplative style.

Vivaldi’s harrowing and difficult “Concerto for Four Violins in B minor” came next. An incredibly difficult piece with intensely varying rhythms amongst each instrument. The piece is from a larger opus done by Vivaldi known as “L’Estro Armonico” that contains twelve concertos in total, all equally as difficult as the one tackled by the Washburn string orchestra. Dr. Yu-Fang Chen, Dr. Martha Placeres, Zachary Cope, and Victoria Smith were featured soloists.

The concert transitioned to feature its largest group, the Washburn University symphony orchestra. The orchestra tackled two of the most famous suites in the entire canon of orchestral music. First starting with Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s well-known ballet “Swan Lake.” The orchestra performed four movements from the ballet, choosing the difficult and well-known “Dance of the Swans” as part of the performance. The most famous moment of the play requires not only dexterity from the ballet dancers, but from the musicians as well and the uproarious applause from the audience clearly showed an appreciation for the orchestra’s talent.

They also performed another ballet suite, this time more contemporary, Aram Khachaturian’s “Gayane.” The ballet is about a young Armenian woman who works in a collective farm, it explores themes of love bordered by ethnic differences. Its music is well known amongst many circles, with its “Adagio” movement being featured in the score of Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi film “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

When choosing from the music within “Gayane” the orchestra did not choose to perform the “Adagio” but did pick the ballet’s most famous movement, “The Sabre Dance.” A fast paced, enchanting movement that depicts a skillful swordfight that has the beauty of dance built into its flourishes. It’s such a famous piece it has been featured in a huge amount of movies and television programs. “Tom and Jerry,” “The Simpsons,” “Scooby Doo,” “The Hudsucker Proxy,” and “One, Two, Three” which uses the song as a continuous gag.

The suite was loved by the audience and the orchestra received a standing ovation from the audience immediately upon the concert’s conclusion. The music department’s next performance will be the Washburn Jazz Concert at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday Dec. 1 at White Concert Hall.