Buckeyes and Berlioz: The perfect odd couple
By CRYSTAL SELLERS
Saturday evening’s Lima Symphony Orchestra performance was a rare occasion where odd musical pairings worked together to form a great concert. From Alexander Borodin to “Hang On Sloopy,” drum cadences to Hector Berlioz, this concert was jampacked with favorites for The Ohio State University and symphony lover.
This concert was a celebration of The Ohio State University-Lima campus, which was celebrating its 50th birthday. Lima Symphony as well as members of the OSU-Lima Chamber Singers and University Band and a portion The Ohio State University Marching Band under the direction of Dr. Jon R. Woods participated in this event.
The evening opened with a rousing arrangement of the national anthem arranged by Luigi Zaninetti featuring the Lima Symphony Chorus and OSU-Lima Chamber Singers. The groups blended well together to create the perfect balance between male and female voices, which is necessary for this particular arrangement. The larger-than-usual audience responded very well to the strong opening.
The concert continued with a performance of Borodin’s Polovetsian Dance No. 17. Both the symphony and combined chorus handled the numerous moods and tempo shifts commonly associated with this dance from the opera “Prince Igor” exceptionally well. These shifts musically represented the gliding dance of maidens, wild dance of men, the general dance and the dance of the boys very clearly in this work. Conductor Crafton Beck and the symphony as well as chorus under the direction of Dr. Mark Munson and Dr. Michael Benson provided a wonderful performance of this work.
The energized applause that followed the Russian dance was soon interrupted by a very familiar drum cadence, that of the OSU Marching Band, which marched to the stage joined by members of the OSU-Lima University Band to play a few band favorites accompanied by the symphony and chorus.
Woods then took the elevated podium and conducted the 34 members of the OSU Marching Band in attendance. Woods shared the history of many of the marching band favorites including “Hang on Sloopy” arranged by a percussionist in the band back in 1965. The most amazing moment for me came as they “sounded the chimes of Orton Hall,” the traditional opening to “Carmen Ohio,” the OSU alma mater. It was very special as I stood there a proud alumna of The Ohio State University singing with fellow alumni in attendance.
The second half of the concert began with Barbara Young, a member of the board of directors for Lima Symphony, sharing the story of Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique” — “An Episode in the Life of an Artist, in Five Parts.”
The story tells of unrequited love that Berlioz himself had for an Irish actress by the name of Harriet Smithson and the never ending struggle he faced for never having his love returned (he did later marry her but the marriage ended rather tumultuously). Important themes were played by the orchestra to prepare the audience for the work ahead.
Beck led this group through this amazing symphonic work with ease. Each movement with its own distinct mood was threaded together by the important motive that the orchestra brought out so well. The first movement — “Daydreams” — is complete with the feeling of young love and the nervousness that occurs with the heartbeat of the young lover being played by the low strings.
The second movement — “A Dance” — portrays from the very opening a sense of anticipation that something is about to happen even before the wonderful waltz melody begins.
Movement three — “Scene in the Fields” — was performed by the English horn being played from the balcony with oboe on stage. The two represent a conversation between two shepherds in the field talking of unrequited love. The end of the movement depicts the conversation becoming one sided with the English horn being answered by the sound of thunder in the distance created by the use of four timpani.
This feeling leads very easily into the last two movements — “March to the Scaffold” — as scene of execution of a lover who has killed his love and “Dreams of a Witch’s Sabbath,” a gathering of witches, sorcerers and monsters who continue to torment the young lover.
The overall work features so many sections of the orchestra and it was performed very well. As I have said before and am proud to say again, Lima Symphony is a jewel to this community. Congratulations to OSU-Lima and Lima Symphony on a job well done.