UNC Symphony Orchestra performs first show of the season

In a style of upbeat classical music, the UNC Symphony Orchestra will perform the first show of its 2013-2014 season tonight.

The performance, sponsored by Carolina Performing Arts, begins at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall.

Music department professor Tonu Kalam, the orchestra’s music director and conductor, said this season is filled with variety.

“We’re excited for Thursday’s performance because we’re trying something new,” Kalam said.

The orchestra will open its season with guest conductor Michael Griffith of the University of Wyoming, which is something he said UNC has never done before.

“I’m really excited for the new guest conductor,” Vincent DeSio, president of the orchestra and bass player, said. “It will be a refreshing change of pace.”

Kalam will also go to Wyoming and conduct the symphony’s first performance in what the conductors call a “podium exchange.”

Kalam and Griffith met in the 1990s while serving on the board of directors for the Conductor’s Guild, Kalam said.

“We came up with the plan because of our friendship,” Kalam said. “Griffith has had great success with this before, so we thought we’d give it a try.”

Kalam said the orchestra spent its first 10 rehearsals preparing to be conducted by Griffith, but Griffith was only at the last two.

“It’s a really valuable experience for students. They’ll benefit from having to learn to be flexible and adapting to a new conductor,” Kalam said.

DeSio said the orchestra has been practicing 5 hours a day twice a week since the semester began.

The performance will run for 2 hours and will include three pieces, Kalam said.

The first half of the show features Tomas Svoboda’s “Overture of the Season”, which is a lively and diverse eight-minute piece. Following that is Antonin Dvo?ák’s “Czech Suite.”

“The piece is more modest, and has more subtle colors,” Kalam said.

The final and longest piece is Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” The piece is 30 minutes of colorful and energetic music involving a combination of different sounds, DeSio said.

He said that this piece is his favorite because of the trumpet solo.

“In this piece, everybody gets a chance to shine,” Kalam said.

Kalam said he expects a big turnout for the first performance, including students, parents, staff and locals.

“We’ve put a lot of effort into this performance, and we have a really phenomenal group,” DeSio said.


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