Written by Joshua Iyer
Published: June 14, 2015 at 3:12 PM [UTC]
Last night, I went with myou family and a few close friends to listen to the Urbana Pops Orchestra play several fantastic pieces. It was a long drive there and back, but it was well worth it due to how impressive the orchestra was! They're unique in that they have student musicians playing alongside the professionals, which is really nice because they can mentor and really, how else could one get a fantastic professional experience as a student? Overall, they all looked very impressive on-stage, and it was great being able to listen to them perform.
The first piece they played was the famous William Tell Overture, which was fantastic and showed the virtuosity of these players, the violins especially with all of the runs they had to keep together as a complete section, which they did fantastically. The brass and timpani boomed loud above the crowd.
Next, there was a Mozart Clarinet concerto that I'd heard before, and I've realized it's very hard not to smile at Mozart. It was such a light-hearted little piece that was a lot of fun to listen to, especially with the smaller orchestra.
Then, they played the Urbana Pops Composition Contest winner - my piece! I had sent in the finale of my "Birds of Prey" piece I wrote last summer. And that piece was utterly fantastic! Every single build I threw in was done with a sort of cinematic brilliance; the brass were excellent, and the conductor told me they really enjoyed playing the piece because each section was able to have some sort of importance, and that my orchestration was fantastic. This performance really showed me the next time I write for a full orchestra, I at least have something to base off due to this concert, and what I heard. There will be a recording available, and I will post a link if available to that in a future entry sometime this week.
Next, they played "Peter and the Wolf", as this was technically a concert where there was a story-time beforehand and children were to bring stuffed animals, which was cute (and I saw a few). Prokofiev did a great job of telling the story with the most obvious use of leitmotifs, which was fine for the children as it helped them to really understand the story, and the narrator did a great job at telling it. I liked how at first, the sections retained their specific melodic idea, but as the piece went on and trouble stirred, the flutes had Peter's melody, for example.
Finally, they ended off the concert with music from "Frozen", which blended several pieces (a couple from the score as well!) from the film together. I did like how Olaf's theme had sleigh bells, and the harp glissandos in this one were very pretty. (She did a good job in my piece as well, but yeah I do need to figure out how to notate the pedals, as that would help the harpist tremendously.)
Overall, I loved the community feel I felt while here. After my piece finished and I went up to bow and shake the conductor's hand, the lady next to me said that it was terrific. I was supposed to meet the musicians for some more comments on the piece, but that never happened. (We even got reserved seats, which was a nice surprise!) So yeah! It was a great concert, and the Urbana Pops is such a fantastic orchestra! I am very glad they got to play my very first world-premiere of a full orchestra composition! :)
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