By Julia Duggan
The melodies of the TCNJ Orchestra rang through Mayo Concert Hall on March 13 at 8 p.m. as the audience was surrounded by a beautiful blend of strings, woodwinds and brass instruments. The performance, titled “Fragments,” showcased the orchestra’s talent, collaboration and hard work.
“If you look at a piece of art from ancient times that is fragmented, there is only a portion of it — sometimes it is a bigger draw than if you had an actual thing because the mind always wants to complete what is missing,” said Uli Speth, music professor and orchestra conductor, about the concert’s name.
Speth wanted to feature several small pieces from famous large orchestra works. The idea behind this is to show how music from different composers can connect to each other along with the depths of human imagination, since the player has to fill in the blanks themselves.
Speth hoped that hearing fragments of orchestra pieces would inspire the audience to explore further by listening to the rest of the works outside of the concert.
The orchestra played the first movement from Mozart’s “Concertone for Orchestra in C Major,” which was played elegantly.
The orchestra then played the first two movements from Johannes Brahms’s “Serenade for Orchestra No. 1 in D Major.” The first movement had a variety of dynamic changes, which showcased the talent of the performers, while the second sounded more peaceful. Both movements had solos that featured a variety of instruments.
The concert finished with Gioacchino Rossini’s “L’Italiana in Algeri” (The Italian Girl in Algiers). It is a quick and exciting piece that proved how advanced the orchestra members were.
Speth challenged the orchestra in a new way this semester by increasing the number of performances, which gave the group more incentive to practice more diligently and showcase their work.
“We usually just have one concert per semester, but we are doing two this time,” said Ashley Krebs, a senior music education major who played first flute in the concert.
The orchestra had roughly two months to prepare for the concert instead of the usual four months.
“We definitely have worked hard to put on this concert,” said Jess Richter, a senior music education major who also played flute. “I think (the shortened practice time) has been pushing everyone … and it is pushing the ensemble to the next level.”
The preparation was more involved than simply learning which notes to play when.
“The orchestra prepared for the concert by not just practicing the music, but by feeling and experiencing it,” said Amanda Spratt, a freshman music education major who played the oboe. “There’s no better way to prepare than experiencing the emotional connections in the music, because that’s what you take and share with others.”
The audience responded with a thunderous round of applause after each piece. After the concert, audience members gathered in the lobby to praise the performers happily.
“I was engaged the entire time,” said Melissa Smith, a freshman music major. “The entire ensemble did a great job playing as a collective unit, instead of just playing as individuals. I loved that the pieces that were played were fragments of larger pieces, because sometimes ensembles will just not bother to play them because they are too long.”
The orchestra members are excited for their next opportunity to perform in the concert hall.
“It is a wonderful experience playing in the Mayo Concert Hall.” said Makenzie Miller, a freshman music major who played the oboe. “The echo of the auditorium adds to the performance on stage. It is my favorite place to perform so far during my time here at TCNJ.”