WKU Symphony performs at Van Meter

Mayfield senior and cello player Shelly Burgess watches the conductor while performing at Van Meter Auditorium Friday, Sept. 23. “I like playing the cello because it is the closest instrument that resembles the human voice,” Burgess said. Michelle Hanks/HERALD

Forde Womack

The WKU Symphony played its first show of the semester at Van Meter Hall on Friday, Sept. 23, featuring five classical pieces from the late 19th and 20th centuries by composers including Gustav Holst, Josef Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Christopher Theofanidis and John Williams.

The band’s performance Friday evening was the first of the semester. Conductor Brian St. John, assistant professor of music, said the performance was different than those he had previously conducted because it didn’t necessarily follow a traditional orchestra.

“If you look at any other college, there’s a certain format to follow, this being the overture, concerto, intermission and symphony,” St. John said. Rather than playing one large continuous piece, the band performed multiple “digestible tracks” according to St. John.

In addition to five weeks of rehearsal leading up to the performance, St. John said there was a lot of behind the scenes work, including individual groups meeting up to practice outside of the full band rehearsals.

The first piece the band played Friday night was “Holst’s Planets,” written in 1918, including songs “Mars the Bringer of War” and “Jupiter the Bringer of Jollity.”

The next piece was Joseph Strauss’ “Music of the Spheres Waltzes,” a collection of waltzes from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The third piece played was Stravinsky’s “Firebird,” ending with a long crescendo and a loud cymbal crash to mark the end of the piece.

Fourth was Theofanidis’ “Rainbow Body,” a contemporary piece and one of the most difficult to play, according to freshman french horn player Kayla Hunt.

Star Wars Medley was the final piece of the performance, which St. John ended as a “special treat.”

“You probably won’t hear this piece again, as the score isn’t being commercially sold anymore,” St. John said. The score was originally sold in 1977 after the unexpected explosion Star Wars caused in the mainstream media. Leia’s Theme, the main theme of Star Wars, and other scores blended together in the orchestral piece.

“I didn’t think it would be as amazing as it actually was; Star Wars especially,” freshman Kai Rogers said. “It was really good.”

The symphony will perform next on Friday, Oct. 28, at Van Meter in a Halloween-themed concert, including pieces from Dante’s Symphony and Symphony Fantastique.

Reporter Forde Womack can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].