Students write, perform in Concerto-Aria concert

The distant echo of a bell will ring throughout Sauder Concert Hall on Saturday evening as the orchestra opens the Concerto-Aria concert with Mussorgsky’s “A Night on Bald Mountain.”

The 7:30 p.m. concert will feature the nine winners of the Concerto-Aria competition held last November. Gregg Thaller, associate professor of music, will conduct the orchestra.

The winners include:

Peter Miller (cello), a senior; Anna Showalter (piano), a junior; and Leslee Smucker (violin), a senior, performing Beethoven’s “Triple Concerto”

Greta Breckbill, a sophomore, performing the first movement of Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 56”

Drew Stoltzfus, a junior, conducting his original composition “Hibiscus Syriacus”

Nathan Grieser (saxophone), a senior, performing Ibert’s “Concerto de Camera”

Carrie Rivero (soprano), a junior, performing “Poor Wand’ring One” from Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance”

Allison Yoder (soprano), a sophomore, performing “Mein Herr Marquis” from Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus”

Emily Swora (soprano), a senior, performing “In unomini” from Mozart’s “Cos fan tutte”

For Stoltzfus, a music composition major, the concert will mark the first performance of one of his original orchestral pieces. “Hibiscus Syriacus” is a reference to a flower commonly found in Asia (known as the Rose of Sharon in North America). Much of the piece is about Stoltzfus’ reflection on life, growth and creativity.

He described the composition process as “tricky and unpredictable.” “Inspiration is a mysterious panther that fades into the shadows for weeks on end before pouncing on you,” Stoltzfus said.

After many hours of working on the composition, he played all the notes in C Major at once out of frustration. Surprisingly, out of this frustration came a strange elegance which became the foundation for the composition.

Miller, Showalter and Smucker have had some previous experience playing as an ensemble. Since there is a very limited number of “Triple Concertos” in the repertoire, choosing the Beethoven was an easy choice. Playing in a small ensemble has challenged the group to pay particular attention to things such as dynamics, phrasing and articulation.

As a tip to the audience, Miller said, “‘Concerto’ originally meant a playful contest, spar between the soloists and orchestra. The audience should keep this in mind when listening to all the concertos [on] Friday.”

“You’ll be glad you came,” said Thaller. “I hope that you will be overwhelmed, like I often am, with this wonderful gift that the Lord has given to all of us through the creativity of composers – the great art form of music!”

Tickets for the concert are $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and students and free for GC students with a valid ID. Tickets are available at the door only one hour before the concert.

Alysha Landis
Written by Alysha Landis

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