The UNC Symphony Orchestra will be hosting their second concert of the 2023-24 season at Memorial Hall with two contrasting pieces — one a classical staple and the other a new, engaging piece from a UNC professor.
For a small fee, guests can come watch the harmonic sounds of the ensemble and their performance of two pieces: Stephen Anderson's "Concerto for Puerto Rico" with UNC wind/brass/percussion head Juan Álamo, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67.
The orchestra's first performance of the season was Oct. 25. Both the symphony orchestra's conductor, Tonu Kalam, and the student musicians prepared new pieces with a quick turnaround.
Stephen Anderson, the composer of "Concerto for Puerto Rico," is a UNC professor and the director of the Jazz Studies program. He said that the piece has moments of war as well as moments of peace, and is a conglomeration of sounds and techniques from Puerto Rican music and culture.
Kalam described it as a contemporary classical piece, with a skillful solo on the marimba and elements such as bird calls and cultural musical motifs from Puerto Rico. Anderson said the piece includes inspiration from elements like coquí frogs that sing at night in Puerto Rico.
The symphony orchestra intended to perform Anderson's concerto in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted rehearsals. Now, audiences will be able to listen at the local premiere.
As well as being the conductor, Kalam also works as the UNC music director. He picks out all the music for concerts, auditions students who are interested in performing and orders the music, he said.
After choosing the pieces for this upcoming performance, Kalam is most looking forward to displaying two contrasting styles.
“The brand new piece for percussion and orchestra — very modern, very rhythmic, very driving,” he said. “And then one of those standards, the old warhorses with Beethoven No. 5, which is also very rhythmically driving, but with a completely different context.”