Renee Sogueco, ‘Doah Staff Writer
February 26, 2014
The Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra held a concert on Feb. 15 and 16 and featured two concertos and the well-known composition, “Carmina Burana.” Conducted in two parts with a 15-minute intermission, the concert promoted the SCSO’s upcoming Spain tour and partnered with Shenandoah Chorus, Cantus Singers and Shenandoah Conservatory Choir for the actual opera. The first part mainly featured concertos with solos from the winners of the 2014 Student Soloists Competition.
The symphony orchestra began the first half of the concert with instrumental concertos that featured the winning soloists of the competition: Kiefer Strickland on bassoon and Mark Edwards on guitar. The orchestra showed practiced skill, precision, group cooperation and attentiveness to director during both parts of the concert. The bassoon player, Strickland, showed incredible breath support and expressed emotion throughout the entire piece. His style showed clarity, tonality, and control, and the sound became light without losing its key. The guitar soloist’s fingers were nimble and light on the strings and showcased precision, clarity and congenial stage presence. Edwards gave close attention to the director and showed enthusiasm for the piece.
Choir directors, Robert Shafer and Karen Keating, joined John Wagner, the artistic director and conductor, for the choral preparations. In “Carmina Burana,” there are three movements, but people mainly recognize the first piece, “O Fortuna Latin,” which begins and ends the entire composition. According to IMDB, this particular piece has been featured in episodes of “Glee,” “Just Go with It” and countless film previews. When “O Fortuna Latin” began, the choir and symphony orchestra produced a powerful sound that shook the entire venue. The pounds of the drumbeats induced chills and an ominous mood. The choir sounded both mature and angelic with the men and women in their respective voice type. It became an experience seeing all the musicians breathe together and seeing the music take effect on their physicality.
The composition presented distinct harmonies, which was expected of the heavy choir score. Though at some points, an audience member still could not distinguish the consonants of the three different languages: Latin, Provençal French and Middle High German. They needed diction to fully pronounce some of the difficult dialect. The choir seemed not altogether in timing, but they sounded excellent due to the preparation with the choral directors. The presumed straight tones stayed almost perfect except for some occasions of slight vibrato.
Due to hot lights and standing and singing for almost two hours, a couple of musicians fell faint during the Saturday show, and the director had to begin a piece again. The incident was not much of a surprise because of the massive amount of body heat packed together on stage. Each show, though, looked to have a full house with more than just obligated family members in the seats. The solos for “Carmina Burana” featured Shenandoah Conservatory faculty: David Meyer, Michael Forest and Aimé Sposato. All soloists performed with perfected breath support, vowel placement and emotive stage presence. Specifically, David Meyer started off the solos as the baritone and emoted powerful expressions. Michael Forest, the bass soloist, performed with great projection. Aimé, the soprano soloist, became a vision by singing beautifully, and stayed fully in character for the entire last movement. During some points of her performance, her expressions were questionably mischievous. If one looked at the translations of the score, most likely people would have been laughing at some points.