On Friday, October 11, the orchestra of Florida Gulf Coast performed a breath-taking concert. “Postcards from Italy!” were the posters and flyers hung around campus and local businesses to advertise for the upcoming event.
But it was a busy week for the arts program. Stress levels have been high the past few weeks for both the theater and symphony. Preparation for both productions happened to coincide at the same time, and the need for an orchestra pit for a musical resulted in woodwind, brass, and string members to miss the concert. On top of the chaos during practice, “Pippin” was being performed the same day and time. Attendance for the University Symphony’s performance was not expected to be great.
Boy, were the expectations wrong! The auditorium was completely packed, each seat filled. A row of students stood in the back, eagerly waiting for the concert to begin. The lights began to dim and the room silences.
First violinist and senior, Kevin Seto, walks up to the podium to give an open “A” for the instruments to tune to before the first piece “Coriolan” by Beethoven. Usually, the violinist to do this would be considered the Concert Master. The FGCU orchestra is unique in this manner. Dr. Cole, the conductor, chose two other violinists to share this position, Marco Ferri and William Martin.
A traditionally important position like Concert Master requires a lot more than just talent. William Martin, senior at FGCU, informs how he plays a physical and psychological role. “The former is to establish ‘bowings’ and other visual elements. The latter is the role which my demeanor as well as my sounds emotionally impact the rest of the ensemble” Martin says.
As Seto finishes tuning and sits down, Dr. Cole walks on stage. With baton raised and players attentive, the “Coriolan” began.
Principle cellist and sophomore, Vince Marcantonio, though rather new to the school has been playing for about 9 years now. ‘The “Coriolan’ mesmerizes me. Starting so intensely with a quick transition to an eerie sound gives me chills as I play” Marcantonio expressed.
The concert progressed to the “Gli Uccelli” by Respighi. A fivemovement piece that portrays the Baroque period with sounds of birds. Unlike the “Coriolan”, Respighi’s piece depicts a chipper tone.
As intermission commenced, members of the band and orchestra gathered behind stage.
“We could work on intonation, but I’m rather impressed with the performance so far despite the time we were given to work on the pieces” Marcantonio said. Seto and Martin also agreed in this regard, and both emphasized the importance of communication.
As Martin voiced his concern of players burying their faces into the music instead of paying attention to the conductor and other section players, Seto relayed, “It is very difficult to play orchestral music because anyone not playing with the group becomes very noticeable for the audience members.”
The four movement “Italian Symphony No. 4” by Mendelssohn was the finale piece for the evening. Beginning and ending energetically with sweetly peaceful middle movements, the audience was on the edge of their seats.
With a crescendo-ing and fierce ending, the orchestra played their last note. Cheering dispersed throughout the audience, soon turning into a standing ovation.
Sophomore, Demitri Blanco attended the concert to see one of his friends perform. Though he is not an avid listener of classical music, he always enjoys the experience during an orchestral concert. He advises to those unfamiliar with the genre that there is cultural benefit of attending an orchestra concert.
“It is something fresh and new to do. Life is all about trying new things,” Blanco declared.
The life of a musician moves fast. Though preparation for the next concert has already begun, “Postcards from Italy” shall never be forgotten, especially by the seniors.
“Tonight’s concert was a great opportunity to really see the orchestra at its best” Seto gleamed.