On Oct. 15, the Ohio Northern University Symphony Orchestra held its first concert of the semester in the Freed Center for the Performing Arts. After hours of practicing, the students were ready to take the stage and show the audience the pieces they had placed hours of dedication and time in perfecting.
The symphony filed onto the stage at 6:45 p.m. to perform a dress rehearsal and to work out any last minute spots before the real concert began. There was a buzz of excitement in the air as the rehearsal began. The students started with the first piece and played through what would become the entire concert, stopping for different sections to replay different parts of the pieces as needed. The rehearsal lasted just before 8 p.m. where the symphony dispensed to get ready for the concert, and the audience began filling the seats.
The concert began at 8:15 p.m., having been delayed from its original time of 7:30 p.m. so that members of the symphony who were also part of the ONU Marching Band would be able to attend the concert, as well.
As the members of the symphony trickled out onto the stage and into their seats, the concert was ready to begin. Eric Chung, the concertmaster, walked out onto the stage and the symphony began its warm-up process, which lasted only a few moments before silence fell over the stage and Director Travis Jürgens walked onto the stage. The applause filled the air as he took his place and raised his arms.
The first piece to be performed was well-known by most. “Jurassic Park,” composed by John Williams, opened the concert with its familiar tempo. The main theme piece from the Jurassic Park franchise quickly filled the theater with its nostalgic sound.
“Mandolin Concerto: From the Blue Ridge” followed “Jurassic Park.” This piece was special for the symphony to perform. The composer, Jeff Midkiff, joined the Ohio Northern University Symphony Orchestra. While playing his mandolin, Midkiff performed with the symphony, enthusiasm coming from every instrument. The students enjoyed the time they played with the man who composed the piece and helped them perform it.
After the second piece there was a brief intermission for the symphony to prepare themselves for the end of the concert. Jürgens commented on the performance between the orchestra and its composer, Jeff Midkiff.
“He would have lots of visual communication with other members of the Orchestra. Especially if they had a solo he would look at them…there’s a lot of interplay between the different parts and so it’s really like a conversation between the different instruments. They would communicate through music,” Jürgens said.
The third piece played was “Peer Gynt Suite No. 1” by composer Edvard Grieg. This piece swelled and dipped throughout its performance. There were beautiful melodies from the first movement to the last.
The final piece that ended the concert that night was “Pines of Rome” by the Italian composer Ottorino Respighi. This was a powerful piece that was chosen for the end of the night. While the song started off quickly, it moved in a series of crescendos and decrescendos. The piece, however, was not played just on stage. Brass members of the orchestra had been placed on both sides of the audience and played directly to them, filling the stage with music not just from the front, but from all around.
After the concert, an audience member was overheard talking about the performance. She had been impressed with the concert and had also attended the previous holiday concert, “Gaudete,” performed each December. She said, “I will definitely be attending the next Christmas concert.”
While the Ohio Northern University Symphony Orchestra is comprised of talented student performers, they are not the only ones that make up the orchestra. Members from the community also join the symphony in their campus performances, mixing tal- ent from Ohio Northern, as well as the surrounding community.
Jürgens commented about how music has the ability to bring all sorts of people together, no matter the background the person may be from.
“We all come together. No matter our background,” he said.
Jürgens said it may be difficult since the people from the community cannot always rehearse with the entire band, but it always works out.