Orchestra’s fall program to feature Dvorak and Sibelius
by Erin Bradley
NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Nationalistic and folklore-influenced music will infuse the Bethel College Philharmonia Orchestra’s fall concert.
The ensemble will perform Antonin Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 in G major and Jean Sibelius’ Karelia Suite, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall.
The concert is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken to support this mixed student and professional orchestra.
“Dvořák is primarily known as a nationalist composer,” said Philharmonia director Christopher Westover. “He composed music of central European folkloric quality. Of all his symphonies, this is the one most in that character.
“[Symphony No. 8] really tells a story,” Westover added. “You don’t have to imagine much. You can hear the birds chirping and all the different forest animals. You hear [what is almost a] call to a dance, and then the whole central European town comes out to the dance. It’s really terrific. It’s one of Dvořák’s most popular symphonies.”
Dvořák has been a recurring composer in the orchestra’s repertoire, due in part to the capability added when student players and community and professional musicians combine for Monday night practices.
“The principal violin, viola and bass player are all part of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and [Bethel adjunct] faculty members,” Westover said. “The donations at this concert go to help fund the orchestra and enable the kind of cooperative effort where we can have the faculty working side by side [with students].
“That doesn’t happen even at big universities. The faculty never play in the orchestras. So that’s a really big deal that they can do that.”
The group was envisioned and formed last year by Timothy Shade, who is on a three-year sabbatical and leave of absence for Ph.D. studies.
“I think it’s been working out well,” Westover said. “It’s an interesting orchestra because it is a mixture. The students get to see me two other days a week with the Chamber Orchestra, and they have gotten to know me and kind of figure out how I work and how I am different from my predecessor.
“The community members who are vocal feel like it’s going well and they appreciate it,” he added. “They feel like it’s a little bit more of a professional situation.”
The Nov. 18 program will last about an hour, with no intermission.
“It’s a Monday night,” Westover said. “It’s not going to be a marathon.”
Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2013-14 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2013-14. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.
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