Two schools collaborate Spring concert
On Sunday afternoon, the Brandeis-Wellesley Orchestra enthralled a full audience in Slosberg Music Center with their spring concert. The two-hour performance featured winners of the 2015 Concerto Competition and consisted of three orchestral pieces conducted by Prof. Neal Hampton (MUS) as well as a closing piece with the Brandeis University Chorus, conducted by Prof. Robert Duff (MUS).
The BWO has been playing since 2002, when the orchestras of the respective universities formally came together. The musicians are all students, faculty, staff or associates of either Brandeis University or Wellesley College.
Before the spring concert began in earnest, Hampton took his place at the podium and remarked how he had hoped to acknowledge Prof. Daniel Stepner (MUS) in the audience. However, to Hampton’s mild frustration and greater delight, Stepner had volunteered earlier in the day to take part in the performing orchestra himself. Although Stepner is a first violinist in the acclaimed Lydian String Quartet, he sat and played with the second violins of the BWO for the duration of the performance.
The concert opened with three movements of “Masques et Bergamasques, op. 112,” an orchestral suite by 18th-century French composer Gabriel Fauré. The piece borrows its title from a line of the poem “Clair de Lune” by Paul Verlaine and incorporates many of Fauré’s former works into its movements.
The first movement, the overture, opened with a lively flourish of violins, transitioning to an riveting conversation between the strings and woodwinds in turn. The second movement had the flutes rise above the clarinets, and as the music picked up in tempo and dynamics, the timpani provided subtle beats that tied the orchestra together. The third movement was bolder than the last two, the intensity of the music clear in the sway of the musicians’ bodies.
Following the suite was a Concerto for Flute and Orchestra by German composer Carl Reinecke with Wellesley senior Caitlin Coyiuto on flute. According to the program, Coyiuto debuted with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 14 and has since performed in numerous recitals as well as with the Metro Manila Concert Orchestra.
Coyiuto’s flute solo was captivating, with wonderful control of dynamics and an incredibly pure tone. The high notes resounded through the audience without a flaw or falter, and Coyiuto’s deft manipulation of the melody led the rest of the musicians from one movement into the next. The flutist was clearly the highlight of this piece, but the BWO provided impeccable support to Coyiuto’s solo, supporting her without overshadowing yet never receding into obscurity.
After a brief intermission, the performance resumed with Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in B flat with Brandeis student Krista Hu ’17 on violin. According to the program, Hu has played for the Northeast Massachusetts District Orchestra, as well as the Massachusetts All-State Orchestra, on several occasions.
Hu initially started playing with the other violins, but her solo eventually rose above the orchestra in a prominent display of control. With graceful vibrato and impressive double stops, Hu demonstrated incredible technical competency.
Over the course of the three pieces, Hampton proved to be a gracious conductor, articulate with his directions and meeting the changing mood of the music with equal expressiveness.
The last piece of the afternoon required a restructuring of orchestra. Duff took over as the BWO’s conductor for Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy in C minor while the Brandeis University Chorus filed and Natsuko Yamagata ’17 took her seat at the grand piano wheeled out to the front of the stage. According to the program, Yamagata has won first prize in competitions such as the 2013 New England Piano Teacher’s Alice Hamlet High School Competition and the 2010 USA International Music Competition in the senior division.
The piano in the piece was breathtaking, either guiding or building rapport with the other instruments. Yamagata immersed herself completely in the music, moving with the melody and enchanting the audience with a flourish of her hands. Duff conducted the piece with vivacity, directing the rest of the musicians with his whole body.
Near the end of the piece, six members of the chorus lined the edge of the stage and led the rest of the singers in the harmony. Though the piece was sung in German, the audience was given a translation in the program. The lyrics spoke of the delight and feeling that music can bring into our lives. Even without the translation, the BWO’s spring concert in its entirety made that message abundantly clear.
—Editor’s Note: Zongyuan “Angela” Li ’19 in the Brandeis University Chorus is on the copy staff for the Justice, and Avital Simone ’18 is a Justice photographer.