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Symphony Orchestra concert showcases diverse repertoire

Winner of the Concerto Competition Elizabeth Shoemaker (‘18) solos in Julius Conus’s “Concerto for Violin E minor.”

Winner of the Concerto Competition Elizabeth Shoemaker (‘18) solos in Julius Conus’s “Concerto for Violin E minor.”

Olivia Enquist (‘19) | Chips

Olivia Enquist (‘19) | Chips

Winner of the Concerto Competition Elizabeth Shoemaker (‘18) solos in Julius Conus’s “Concerto for Violin E minor.”

Olivia Enquist, Staff Writer

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With grand, sweeping melodies and challenging scores, the Luther College Symphony Orchestra performed in the Center for Faith and Life on March 22.

This performance was the first of their two spring concerts. The concert highlighted Elizabeth Shoemaker (‘18) with a lengthy violin solo during the orchestra’s performance of Julius Conus’s “Concerto for Violin in E minor.” 

The concert program consisted of three pieces: Jean Sibelius’s “Finnlandia Op. 26 No. 7,” Julius Conus’s “Concerto for Violin in E minor,” and Igor Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” 1919 concert suite. The concert was the first since Symphony Orchestra’s J-term tour, making it the first time in the new year that the musicians learned all new repertoire.

The orchestra began the concert with a performance of “Finnlandia.” This piece switches between two different moods: a turbulent, sometimes dissonant mood and the more serene-sounding melody. The piece was originally written as a protest to Russian censorship, and the conflict in moods represents the struggle of the Finnish people.

Symphony Orchestra President Sarah Bauer (‘18) liked how the piece gave the orchestra an opportunity to refine their musicality.

“Personally, it was one of my favorite concerts,” Bauer said. “What’s cool about [‘Finnlandia’] is that it’s not super difficult. A lot of high schools will do it too, but it is nice to do something at a college level that you can really put a lot of finesse on, compared to how it is performed at the younger levels.” 

Symphony Orchestra also performed Julius Conus’s “Concerto for Violin in E minor,” which highlighted violinist Shoemaker, concert master of Symphony Orchestra. Shoemaker was one of the 2017 winners of the music department’s Concerto Competition. Having chosen the piece when auditioning, Shoemaker collaborated with Professor of Music Daniel Baldwin and Symphony Orchestra during rehearsals. 

“I was really shocked that I had been chosen,” Shoemaker said. “I had been getting serious with violin, but it was my junior year and I had only just started to buckle down. Ever since then I have been working towards graduate school. The whole process really motivated me to practice and improve.” 

The program concluded with the 1919 concert suite “The Firebird.” Originally written for ballet, the suite utilizes rhythmic, almost dance-like, melodies that pull from the tradition of Russian folk songs. “The Firebird” is based on Russian folklore of the firebird, a mythical being that offers feathers as a symbol of fortune or possible woe. The performance shocked the audience with a loud resounding boom hidden within the suite.

“I especially enjoyed the Firebird suite,” attendee Isabel De Ayala (‘19) said. “The surprising moments were very powerful and it was clear they worked very hard on these parts. Their efforts certainly make it worth it for the audience, and students should definitely take the time to attend all the ensemble’s concerts throughout their time here.”

Symphony Orchestra will now prepare for their annual showcase with Nordic Choir on May 25 in the CFL.

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