orchestra21

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wcfsymphony → 75th Anniversary

February 5, 2005 7:30 pm → Great Hall, GBPAC, Cedar Falls

Jernigan – Preamble to a Concert [2005, world premiere]
Mahler – Symphony no. 2, ‘Resurrection’ with Metropolitan Chorale, Karen Holvik & Eileen Farrell

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WCFSO delights with performance
By Scott Cawelti
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
February 9, 2005

Last Saturday night’s Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra’s Diamond Anniversary concert celebration offered not only a fitting musical tribute to the orchestra and its history, but also a triumphant evening of challenging symphonic music.

The evening began with a tribute to its many long-standing players, seven of whom have played two decades or longer, with violinist Jim Grams having performed for 44 years. That’s approaching legendary.

The orchestra then played Lathan Jernigan’s ‘Preamble to a Concert,’ a sharp, sprightly piece with discordant lines and tonal shifts that prepared a full house of listeners for Mahler’s sublime orchestral surprises. It was a spotlight that reminded listeners how this orchestra can shine.

Then came the major challenge: Gustav Mahler’s monumental ‘Resurrection’ Symphony, a five-movement behemoth of a work, which uses chorus, soprano and mezzo-soprano soloists as part of the color and texture of the orchestra. A full 85 minutes long, Mahler’s work makes enormous emotional demands on both musicians and listeners ranging from the opening movement’s despair and chaos to the affirmation of the fifth movement. Those emotional demands grow out of serious musical challenges to which the orchestra rose magnificently.

What’s most challenging about Mahler are sudden cascades of sound, unusual dissonances, unexpected twists and turns of newly created orchestral colors. The English horn and bass clarinet duet in the first movement delighted listeners with its unique timbre.

Eileen Farrell and Karen Holvik, mezzo-soprano and soprano soloists respectively, offered perfectly nuanced and textured sounds to the stunning fifth movement, ending the symphony with a blazing finale, a wild pounding of timpani, cymbals, and full-throttle horns and strings. It brought a full-house audience to its feet in the spontaneous, extended outburst of appreciation and affection for the orchestra’s newly energized musicianship under conductor and music director Jason Weinberger.

Weinberger promises to take the WCFSO creatively and musically well into its next 75 years, and he and the orchestra deserve the entire Cedar Valley’s congratulations and thanks for a job extraordinarily well done.

The entire anniversary concert will be broadcast on Iowa Public Television at a later date.

Note: All reviews are edited for length and spelling.