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ISSUE 119 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 3/24/2006

Letter to the Editor

By Letter to the Editor
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 24, 2006

“Orchestra concert disappoints” is tragically misinformed, displaying a personal bias that misrepresents the majority of concertgoers. Joe Mignano’s choice of language throughout was poor and caustic at best.

As a fellow composer, I agree it is important to “do justice to an underrepresented era” of 20th century music. It’s clear the author hadn’t done his homework before writing. Out of 15 pieces performed by the St. Olaf Orchestra this year, 11 were written in the 20th century, and seven in the last 50 years. Had he talked to orchestra members, he would know that our two feature pieces on the Senior Soloists concert are “Short Ride in a Fast Machine,” by John Adams (1986) and “Rage,” a piece of mine (2005). We’re playing student works at a rate topped only by the St. Olaf Band – hardly a “stuffy old orchestra.”

By both implicitly claiming to represent the concertgoers while expressing his biased opinion, the author discredits himself as a music critic. His words, like “weak” and “wimped out,” are in contrast to the praise I have received from over 40 professors, administrators and students. The author was obviously in a minority of concertgoers that “left with a funny taste in their mouth.”

The author’s description of “Hands” as “fluff” is frustrating. This senior percussion section flawlessly performed a unique work with only their bodies. “Hands” is an innovative, highly musical piece, not just a “crowd-pleaser.” We strings played a corny fiddling tune. So what?

It’s true we had one week less to prepare than usual – only a month for one of the most difficult programs the orchestra has ever attempted. This had nothing to do with Senior Soloists, but a lack of personnel during Interim, Christmas Festival and Oratorio obligations. As principal bassist, I can assure you that the orchestra was prepared. That we took on such difficult music in such a short time and played such a great concert is heroic.

– Matthew Peterson ‘06

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