Symphony performance draws 536 to River Campus

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The 100 or more concertgoers who entered the Bedell Performance Hall early for Tuesday evening's performance by the Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra were treated not only to the musical program but to a brief lecture about the composers and the works they would hear.

Dr. Sara Edgerton, who conducted the symphony during the first half of the concert, gave the audience a glimpse of the similarities in the careers of Franz Schubert, Ludwig von Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

An audience of 536 listened to the orchestra perform Symphony No. 8 in B minor, more commonly known as Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony," and Beethoven's "Egmont" Overture. The orchestra was joined by the University Choir and the Choral Union for the performance of Mozart's "Coronation" Mass during the second half of the program, which was conducted by Dr. Steve Hendricks.

Edgerton provided the audience with some insight to the thought process that goes into choosing music for a concert, which she compared to serving a meal.

"The courses need to complement each other, but also offer some contrast," Edgerton said.

Edgerton pointed to some common threads in the lives and careers of Schubert, Beethoven and Mozart.

"Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert all lived in Vienna for a significant portion of their careers," Edgerton said, adding that all three were essentially freelance composers for all or part of their lives.

Beethoven's work was influenced by Mozart, and in turn, Schubert was influenced by Beethoven.

The three compositions were played in reverse chronological order, with Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony" first and Mozart's "Coronation" Mass last.

"In traveling from Schubert to Mozart, one is in effect, stylistically, tracing these influences back to their roots," Edgerton said.

All three composers wrote symphonies, masses and overtures, Edgerton said, explaining having one of each on the program provided balance. The three pieces complement one another in that they all came from the composers' middle periods.

The length of the pieces and their styles also are a factor in selecting music for a program, Edgerton said.

"The 'Unfinished Symphony,' while substantial, is short enough, consisting of only two movements, to fit easily on the program," Edgerton said. "Adding the 'Egmont' Overture supplies a nicely rounded first half of the program, ending on a positive, victorious note to prepare for the 'Coronation' Mass to follow."

Ryan Janik of Festus, Mo., called the talk beneficial and said it was "a nice learning experience."

"Without the lecture we might not have known that [the composers] studied with each other," Janik said. "It gives a sort of flow to the concert."

Marta Green of Cape Girardeau also appreciated the lecture by Edgerton.

"She brings it to life," Green said. "You can see the composers and understand a little bit more about why they wrote the music and when they wrote it."

For the "Coronation" Mass, the two choirs provided voice to the orchestra music in Latin. Performing solos were soprano Megan Statler, tenor Nickolas Harris and baritone Jacob Alexander. Alto Kaylyn Kinder was ill and unable to perform.

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