Solos, individuals to shine at orchestra concert

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The bold sounds of 80 musicians will resound from the Gaertner Performing Arts Center Friday as the Sam Houston State University Symphony Orchestra hosts their second concert of the semester.

The orchestra has been working through long hours over many weeks to show off each section’s musical abilities. Visiting assistant professor of orchestral conducting Jonathan Pasternak, D.M.A., will lead the orchestra and believes the work is challenging but has high expectations for students.

“We have class actually every day,” Paternack said. “Our string orchestra meets three times a week and then we have full orchestra rehearsals twice a week. Those are a little longer and those are all intense and then students are expected to prepare their parts on their own time.”

The pieces that have been chosen for the students to play are pieces that will test their musical knowledge, and will showcase each section of the orchestra. All three pieces may sound different, but will come together to help each section shine, according to Pasternack.

“This concert, it’s just the orchestra and so it showcases the orchestra itself, the ensemble its self,” Pasternack said. “Every one in the orchestra in all the instrumental parts [will] have an important thing to do at some point at least in the program.”

Apart from highlighting each section, the performance will present sounds not typical of traditional orchestra.

Several instruments will serve as special guests, including a saxophone, celesta keyboard, harps and various woodwind instruments. As any orchestra has there will be the typical instruments such as violins, cellos and double basses.

“Some different kinds of woodwinds that you don’t see all the time [will perform],” Pasternack said. “There is a bass clarinet and a contrabassoon and English horn and a full brass compliment. The range of colors in this program is really extraordinary and I think and if we get it right and balance it well, the audience will be able to enjoy and hear all of these parts.”

Pasternack believes that choosing these pieces will help expose his students to the various types of orchestral music that have been written.

“Being a university ensemble and a teaching ensemble, I think it is important to expose my students to the great works for orchestra and to have a variety on each concert on each program from different times, different eras,” Pasternack said.

The program will feature sections from Berlioz’s “The Damnation of Faust,” Prokofiev’s Suite No. 2 from “Romeo and Juliet” and Beethoven’s instantly recognizable Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, according to Pasternack. He believes that it is important for musicians to become familiar with these pieces, because similar work is often taken for granted and it is easy to hear the compositions in various media.

“It’s so easy to turn on YouTube…even TV commercials and movies and hear some of this music played,” Pasternack said. “The danger is that we might take it for granted but it never seizes to be the amazing works of art that it is. The Beethoven symphony has that kind of power and to come and listen to 80 young musicians play this live for us we think of as a very thrilling thing and we want to share that passion.”

The SHSU Symphony Orchestra will perform Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the GPAC Concert Hall.

Tickets for the performance cost $15 for general admission, $12 for seniors and $5 for SHSU students and can be purchased at the GPAC ticket office.