On the evening of Saturday, March 4, the Macalester College Orchestra held a concert highlighting the three Concerto Competition winners of 2017. The competition took place in December. Ten musicians applied, and three were selected as the winners. The concert, conducted by Macalester’s Assistant Professor and Director of Instrumental Activities, Mark Mandarano, consisted of five short pieces. The soloists were Rosie Hughes ’17 (mezzo-soprano), Julia Fritz-Endres ’19 (French horn) and David Soro ’17 (clarinet). The pieces were all under 10 minutes, but took hours and hours of practice.
The concert began with a piece by Pyotr Tchaikovsky from Sleeping Beauty entitled “Introduction and Lilac Fairy.” This first short piece shifted through different moods, beginning with high energy before becoming softer, the strings playing vibrantly in the background.
The first piece to showcase a soloist was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Ah, scostati — Smanie implacabili” from the opera Così fan tutte. The piece featured the unique strength in Rosie Hughes’s voice, which allowed her to portray one of the play’s main female characters, Dorabella. Dorabella has just found out that her lover has been called off to join his regiment, and she laments his departure. To perform the intensity of her sorrow, Hughes paid close attention to lyrical phrasing and musicality. The piece allowed her to exhibit her impressive vocal range while executing these elements.
Following Hughes’s performance, the orchestra featured Julia Fritz-Endres playing Franz Strauss’s “Concerto No. 1” for French horn. Overall, the piece conveyed a calmer tone than the others in this program. The French horn blended with the orchestra, yet still rose over the rest of the instruments as the leading voice. The horn part began with quieter, sustained notes, but then moved to faster movements that showed the soloist’s versatility.
The third concerto piece, Claude Debussy’s “Premiere Rhapsody for Clarinet and Orchestra,” showcased David Soro as the soloist on clarinet. Conductor Mark Mandarano described it as having “little sparkles of sound” with “humorous” undertones. The piece was playful and quick at times, while being more somber at others. It finished with a light flourish of the clarinet that allowed Soro to end on a humorous note, concluding what was a well-executed performance.
The orchestra finished the concert with another piece by Tchaikovsky, this time playing the “Waltz” from Sleeping Beauty. Altogether, the concert provided an important opportunity for the Macalester community to come together and appreciate some of the classical music achievements of Macalester students. The soloists and the orchestra as a whole worked hard to perfect the notes and rhythms so that on Saturday they could bring their energy to the emotion and nuances of the pieces. It is safe to say that Macalester’s music department put together a top-quality performance that featured engaging themes and performers.
Julia Fritz-Endres is Arts Editor of The Mac Weekly.