QC Orchestra: From Russia with Love

5 mins read

On Oct. 5, 2018, the Queens College Orchestra presented a concert called “From Russia With Love,” in which they performed works from Glinka, Liebermann and Tchaikovsky. Charles Neidich, an Associate Professor at the Aaron Copland School of Music, conducted the performance.

The audience was mostly filled with families, but there were also some members of the QC faculty present, mainly from the music department. The audience apparel ranged from formal to casual attire, while the orchestra members were clad in all-black formal clothes. Snacks and other food were served outside of the hall. The atmosphere was very classy and sophisticated, and most of the people there were very gentle and warm. Before starting the show, the conductor mentioned that the orchestra setup for this performance was different than what is usually done. Nevertheless, he assured us it was the setup that Tchaikovsky would’ve known.

The first piece performed came from the composer Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka titled “Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla.” “Russlan and Ludmilla” was an opera that Glinka composed between 1837 and 1842. The concert programme mentioned that when the opera was first performed in Russia, the public’s reaction was rather underwhelming. This, however, had more to do with the confused nature of the plot, according to the performance programme. Glinka was inspired by Alexander Pushkin’s poem that shares the play’s name.

The performance was wonderful overall, with a noticeable effort on the musicians’ end to produce the best sound possible. All of the entrances and exits for the piece were executed perfectly; the display was grand and regal.

The second piece performed by the orchestra was the “Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Op.39,” by Lowell Libermann. The concert programme mentions that this concerto was completed in Sept. of 1992. It was commissioned by and dedicated to James Galway. The piece has three movements: Moderato, Molto Adagio and Presto. The orchestra featured the soloist, Erin Keppner, a senior and flute performance major at our very own Aaron Copland School of Music.

This piece gave off a mysterious vibe and a halcyonic quality. Judith Acosta, wife of Ramon Acosta, a double bass player in the QC orchestra with a degree from QC, said that the soloist was “excellent.” Acosta was also quick to mention that “soloists don’t become soloists for nothing.”

Joel Mandelbaum, teacher and chairman of the music department from 1969 to 1999, also sang Keppner’s praises, and was proud to tell that the soloist was in his class and that she was a fantastic student. After the performance, this claim is impossible to deny; the amount of devotion Keppner had for the music was felt throughout the audience.

The last piece performed was the “Symphony No.5 in E minor, Op.64,” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. He composed this piece between May and the end of Aug., 1888. The concert programme mentions that this piece was based off of, “Rhythmic repetition and thematic contrast and with the use of a thematic motto, which return in different guises at important points in the work.” As the orchestra played this piece, it was as though the sound swelled and became bigger than the stage itself. Mandelbaum truthfully disclosed that, “The Tchaikovsky symphony was very beautiful to listen to live.”

By the end of the performance, the crowd gave a well-deserved standing ovation. Ramon Acosta said that the combination of pieces chosen for this performance was “an interesting idea.”

There are a myriad of strong reasons why students should come and attend performances like this one, aside from the obvious enjoyment of music all people experience. The audience of this event were open to meeting and talking about the spectacle, which can help students gain more knowledge of and appreciation for the wonderful world of music. Furthermore, it is tremendously inspiring to see someone doing what they love.

Merielle Mschmeltz, a music instructor at QC, said that attending performances like this can help people to “emphasize their humanity.” Concerts are given very often in QC, and most, if not all, are given either for free or at a very reduced price (if bought with a valid QC ID). Everyone! Go get your tickets today!  

Raveena Nabi

Raveena Nabi has been a writer for The Knight News since freshman year. She has a major in English and a minor in Student Services and Counseling. Her favorite hobbies are writing poetry and singing.

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