Fri. Jun 24th, 2022

The West Chester University Chamber Orchestra performed in Swope Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 14 under the baton of Professor Silvia Ahramjian. The concert featured music by William Boyce, Howard Hanson, Antonin Dvorak and an original piece from the Guizhou province of China. The first piece of music, Concerto Grosso in B-flat Major by Boyce, featured Ayree Koh and Heather Siegfried on violin, Meghan Hoefert on cello and Diane Legnini on harpsichord. The small ensemble had a surprisingly full sound for so few players. Koh and Siegfried were in sync during their featured solos and their precision playing complex phrases was impressive. The violinists played well off of each other. The piece had three movements and the low strings provided strong support for the quick-paced violin phrases. The harpsichord created a baroque tone which worked well with the size of the ensemble.

The Chamber orchestra shifted to a more contemporary feel by following the Boyce concerto with a Serenade for Solo Flute, Op. 35 by Hanson. The featured flautist, Jaqueline Howell, performed the mysterious sounding piece quite well. The solo flute sounded reminiscent of a Native American melody while the ensemble used dynamics well to allow Howell to bring out her solo; her cadenza was also impressive. Some parts of the Hanson piece sounded like the introduction music to a horror film with the tense and sometimes dissonant melodies. The harp, played by Juliana Nagy, added a new dimension of sound of the ensemble. The piece came to a grumbling close with a low string ending.

Before the performance of the third piece of music, Ahramjian explained that the music from the Chinese province of Guizhou did not have a composer listed due to the difficulty translating the name. The Chinese folksongs were a nice change of pace from the romantic music which preceded it. The sliding from note to note in the violin section gave the piece a distinct oriental sound. The low string pizzicato enhanced the Asian feel of the music. The independent cello, viola and bass lines supported the violins well, and the piece was, without a doubt, of Asian origin.

The concert came to a close with a rousing performance of Dvorak’s Serenade in E Major, Op. 22. The familiar opening phrase was passed between each section, and the pizzicato in the bass section was strong, despite the fact that there was only one player. The first movement was slow and graceful while the second movement was more upbeat and a bit darker sounding than the first.

The ensemble had an impressive sound during the fortissimo sections of the piece, and the tremolo in the low string sections during the third movement was impressive. The fourth movement was somewhat calming after the third, and ended with a fermata (a holding of a single note throughout each section).

The sudden and jolting start of the fifth movement set the mood for a grand finale. The low strings answered the melodic line of the high strings and the performers played well off of each other.

Despite an occasional slip in intonation, the ensemble performed an impressive repertoire which was certainly the caulmination of a semester’s worth of rehearsals.

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