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ISSUE 117 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 5/7/2004

Philharmonia plays final concert for the year

By Carl Schroeder
Staff Writer


Friday, May 7, 2004

Closing out a three-day spring tour, the St. Olaf Philharmonia performed a concert in Skoglund Auditorium on Monday night that featured an assortment of Classical, Romantic and 20th-century music.

The 90-minute concert, conducted by music professor Jo Ann Polley, opened with the buoyant "Jupiter" movement from British composer Gustav Holsts 1917 suite "The Planets." Subtitled "The Bringer of Jollity," the movement alternated bright, colorful material with a central ceremonial theme, which the 80-member Philhar-monia rendered powerfully.

Next, a reduced ensemble of harp and strings performed the "Adagietto" from Gustav Mahlers "Symphony No. 5."

"This is the hardest piece on our program because its slow," Polley said while introducing the "Adagietto." The works subtle build-up of emotional chromaticism was underscored by a shimmering harp solo, performed by Marissa Sidars 06.

Interrupting the evenings all-Gustav trend, the program continued with a chamber orchestra excerpt from "Der Schauspiel-direktor (The Impresario)" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, featuring vocal soloist Katie Humrickhouse 04. Humrick-house, also the Philharmonias principle oboist, delivered her soprano lines with crisp finesse, showing off her vocal dexterity in a series of florid ornamented passages.

"Ive been playing oboe with the orchestra for four years, but it was a lot of fun to get the chance to do a vocal piece with the group," Humrickhouse said after the concert.

After the full orchestra returned to stage, the first half of the program concluded with Edvard Griegs 1888 "Peer Gynt Suite." Although the work is most famous for its first and fourth movements, "Morning Mood" and "In the Hall of the Mountain King," the Philharmonia also infused the suites lesser-known inner movements with a refreshing amount of character and emotional intensity.

The concerts second half, which focused on music inspired by nationalism and folk tradition, began with the rhapsody "España," by 19th-century French composer Emmanuel Chabrier, a work inspired by traditional Spanish melodies and rhythmic figures.

Several members of the orchestra, including clarinetist Christopher Renk 05 and flutist Sarah Everhart 04, contributed solos in the programs next work, "The Banks of the Green Willow," another folk-inspired composition. Written in 1913 by English composer George Butterworth, the brief piece captured the calm of the British countryside shortly before the outbreak of the World War that would claim Butterworths life.

Next, the Philharmonia played "El Capitan March," one of John Philip Sousas most popular works, followed by a rousing medley of music from the Broadway musical "Oliver!"

Before the programs final number, Polley took a few minutes to recognize the Philharmonias twelve graduating musicians, several of whom have played with the group for four years.

The concert then closed with the sweeping climax of Jean Sibeliuss "Symphony No. 2," a worthy bookend to the grandiose opening Holst movement.

"I think we played a great home concert," said cellist Aubrey Barnard 04, one of the Philhar-monias graduating members.

Several of the seniors paused to reflect on their time with the ensemble following the show.

"Ill miss playing the violin & Ive had a lot of great experiences playing with this orchestra," said Sara Kelton 04, the ensembles concertmaster.

During the weekend-long tour that preceded the Monday program, the Philharmonia performed concerts at venues in Amery, Wisconsin and Monticello, Minnesota. "We had a marvelous experience [on tour]," said Polley.

In addition to its annual spring weekend tour and home concert, the St. Olaf Philharmonia performs a fall concert and a chapel service each year. "This is an orchestra that gives a chance to make music to people who otherwise might not have that opportunity," said Polley.





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