On April 9, the Goshen College Symphony Orchestra will present their annual spring concert.This year, Jose Rocha, in his second year as the associate professor of music and orchestra conductor, is bringing cultures from around the world to Goshen, through the concert’s theme of dance.
“I wanted to show the uniqueness of each of the places that we are presenting in the concert,” says Rocha, “but also the commonalities and how the music brings all cultures closer together.”
The energetic and upbeat pieces for this concert are inspired by folk dances from countries around the globe, including Cuba, Norway, Slovakia and “a very exotic representation of Asian music” by Russian composer, Alexander Borodin. “The Polovtsian Dances” by Borodin is the highlighted piece of the concert, as well as Rocha’s favorite.
The piece follows the story of the Prince Igor Opera, about a Russian prince’s campaigns against Polovtsian tribes. Borodin died before he was able to finish his 18-year masterpiece, so other composers, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov, finished the piece. Some music scholars consider this edited ending to be a bit controversial, but most people enjoy the energetic, driven ending of the piece.
Accompanying the music, a presentation of dance costumes and other visuals designed by Rocha will be projected to form a multisensory experience.
Peter Paetkau and Vince Kurtz, senior violinists, weighed in on the value of orchestra concerts. The major thing that sets this concert apart from other concerts are the musical selections.
“I think that this concert has a good mix of music,” said Paetkau. “You of course have your beautiful, sensitive moments that everyone expects from classical music, but there is also a lot of dramatic energy. I think it is fun music to listen to.”
Kurtz also values the variety of composers.
“We’re playing some dances by Cuban composer Ignacio Cervantes which don’t necessarily get played all that often,” said Kurtz.
Other senior orchestra members include Leah Landes, Abbie Kaser, Wade Troyer, Emily Vogt, Peter Wise, Grant Flaming and Max Stauffer. As seniors in their last orchestra concerts at Goshen, both Kurtz and Paetkau reflected on the ability to play in a group as a valuable part of their experience.
“I really enjoy being in orchestra when I’ve learned my part well enough to start listening to other instruments,” said Paetkau. “When I finally start hearing how the music actually works together, I think it becomes more organic and honest.”
Kurtz appreciates the collaborative aspect of orchestra.
“Making music with other people,” he said, “is more satisfying than just slogging away in a practice room by yourself.”
The Goshen College Symphony Orchestra will perform on April 9 at 7:30 p.m. in Sauder Concert Hall. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors and free for Goshen College faculty, staff and students with ID.