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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra prepares for their first concert of the semester

The Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra will be performing on Friday, March 3 at 8 p.m. in the Leighton Concert Hall in Debartolo Performing Arts Center for their first concert of the semester. The orchestra, composed of 90 students that rehearse once a week, put on around three to five concerts a year. The orchestra has been working on these pieces for about two months.



Katie Muchnick | The ObserverThe Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra in the midst of their practice for their Friday performance. The winter concert will include Respighi’s “Pines of Rome,” Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Reicha’s Clarinet Concerto and Wagner’s Overture to Tannhauser. These pieces are all distinct from each other, and orchestra director Daniel Stowe believes playing different kinds of pieces shows the level of talent held by orchestra students. 

“They have a lot of range and ability to play in different styles,” Stowe said. 

The two concertos stand out from the other pieces because they will include soloists. Alex Kaup will play a clarinet solo in Reicha’s Concerto and James Bennett will be the piano soloist in Chopin’s Concerto. 

These two students had to participate in the annual concerto competition to earn their spots. This competition is open to all music majors and symphony orchestra members. In this competition, students compete in front of a panel of individual judges. 

“You know, really all of them could have won, depending on the year,” Stowe said. “It turns out that Alex and James were just spectacular.”

Stowe explained it is rewarding to work with these soloists, and he is not the only one to say so. Maya Kvaratskhelia, co-concert master and violinist, said working with the soloists is the most rewarding part of preparing for this concert. 

“The most exciting part is interacting with the soloists and listening to the fruits of their labor,” she said. 

Reicha’s Concerto is acknowledged not only for the soloist, but also for the history behind it. The piece was written around 1815, but it was never published. When Notre Dame graduate student Fenian Kenney was in the Paris National Library during her study abroad, she noticed this unpublished work and decided to take photos of the score. In doing so, she allowed the soloist Kaup to transcribe the manuscript for the orchestra to perform. 

“He really built the performance from scratch in that way,” Stowe said. 

The orchestra has only had half of the semester to work on these pieces. In such a short time, the students and faculty alike recognize the way in which the work comes together so quickly. 

“It’s kind of like building a plane when you’re flying it in a way,” Stowe said. “Seeing things come together, seeing order emerge from chaos is the most exciting thing. But just again, it just keeps coming back to the incredible gifts of the Notre Dame student community.”

Admission to the concert is free and the event is open to all. Those in the concert feel as though there are many reasons why people should attend. Kvaratskhelia acknowledges that many people out there are not interested in classical music; however, she feels there is still something for people to enjoy. 

Kvaratskhelia explained these concerts are a historical representation of music in the past. By performing, Notre Dame is interpreting this old, cultural music how they see fit. 

“You can come and hear music that people have listened to for hundreds of years, played by people living today,” she said. “I think it is very cool because it continues this timeline of interacting with people who you will never know.”

For those not interested in classical music or history, Kvaratskhelia still thinks the concert is worth attending. She said the calming atmosphere of these concerts often leads her to reflect on her life. 

“If you want to come and zone out, you can have a total revelation about your life,” she said. “Just sitting there is like surround sound music. You don’t have words to focus on, so you'll just sit there and meditate for like an hour.”

For those who have an interest in classical music, Stowe believes the quality of the performance will also not disappoint. 

“Just hear how incredible these students can perform and how gifted they are,” he said.