The opulent and grand Southern Theater was the perfect setting for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s dynamic performance this past weekend. From the moment the glossy double-glass doors opened to Ohio’s oldest living theater, the atmosphere was rich with anticipation for a night of sophisticated classical music.
Sprinkled within the crowd amongst some of Columbus’ most finely dressed were pockets of eager Denison students.
For some, tickets were generously provided for gratis thanks to a gift from Columbus Symphony cellist and Denison Music Professor Emeritus, Marjorie Chan with coordination from the Gilpatrick Center.
According to Cookie Sunkle, Assistant to the Director of the Gilpatrick Center, this event was handled through their office “since the Gilpatrick Center is soon to be re-dedicated as the Center for Scholarly Engagement, the Provost’s Office, which had previously handled the tickets in conjunction with University Communications.”
The program for the evening was titled Vienna Festival: Vienna 1900-Tradition & Modernism Mozart & Schubert.
The opening piece of the concert, however, displays an artist not titled by name, but perhaps as encompassing Modernism itself through Arnold Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1, Op. 9. A shrunken orchestra and a quartet with a few supporting woodwinds and brass intricately play a compressed, raw, and powerfully expressive rendition of the piece in a brave contrast to the sweeping and elegant melodies of the Romantic-era genre pieces more closely associated with Classical music by the general public.
A revolutionary piece at its conception, the performance was well received by the audience, but the piece warranted some uncertainty from Hai Nghiem ‘18 who described it as his least favorite performance as “it was too modern.”
Still, there was no uncertainty about the next piece, Wanderer Fantasy, D. 760, Op. 15, by Frank Schubert/Frans Liszt which showcased an incredible performance by pianist Stewart Goodyear. Proclaimed a “phenomenon” by the Los Angeles Times, Goodyear has performed with dozens of renowned symphonies around the world and received an outstanding three standing ovations before wooing the crowd with an impromptu performance of one of Beethoven’s piano sonatas. Goodyear’s captivating virtuosity revitalized the crowd, including Keara Kilbane ‘16 who describes his performance as “truly incredible, and for me, quite inspirational.”
The performance closed with the spritely Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551, more affectionately known as “Jupiter.”
In a sweeping finality of energy and finesse, the crowd lauded the full symphony and excitedly murmured praises on the way out.
When speaking of the value of the concert experience for the larger Denison community, Professor Van Reeth of the Music Department notes that, “If we are the sum of our experiences, attending a symphony concert is another way to broaden the liberal arts experience. Many Denison students do not know they are surrounded by a vibrant arts community in Columbus and surrounding area and that these experiences are available to them.”
The the likelihood of hosting these concerts in the future is promising. Ms. Sunkle says that she hopes students will still be interested, “We’ve had good attendance and hope to publicize it a little more widely and more in advance if Dr. Chan decides to offer these tickets to us again next season. There is one set of concerts left in late May which we will offer to students staying on campus for the summer.”
Regardless of when the next show will be, attendees agree that they recommend their peers explore the cultural events offered to them at Denison.
“Not only does it broaden your musical knowledge and appreciation, but it is also an opportunity to know Columbus and what Columbus has to offer. It was honestly so much fun and free…that does not happen much in the adult post Denison life (or so I am told)” Kilbane said.
For even more incentive, Nghiem, affirms that at the very least, “it is a much more relaxing way to spend a Saturday night rather than going to the Sunnies.”