Ensembles collaborate in historic concert

On Sunday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in Boe Memorial Chapel, two of St. Olaf College’s departmental music ensembles will make history: Philharmonia and Norseman Band will share their first ever fall concert. While the two ensembles are not currently planning on collaborating on a piece or overall theme, they will perform consecutively within the same concert.

Traditionally, the St. Olaf Philharmonia, currently conducted by Dr. Martin Hodel, has a fall concert of its own to update its repertoire after its initial concert at the beginning of the year. Norseman Band, currently conducted by Dr. Timothy Mahr, does not have a fall concert, as it participates in the “Festival of Bands” alongside the St. Olaf Band and high school students who compile the “Festival Band.” After active discussions surrounding Norseman Band’s lack of a fall concert, it was decided that the ensemble should have one. Due to limited rehearsal time, however, it was noted that programming a full concert soon following the “Festival of Bands” would be difficult, leading to the proposition to share a concert with the St. Olaf Philharmonia. Meanwhile requests for a shorter concert had already been mounting within the St. Olaf Philharmonia.

“I think we’re doing it because both Norseman and Philharmonia ideally would have a long hour-and-a-half or 45 minute concert, but from the last couple years, a lot of the student feedback was ‘We want a shorter concert because we just played a concert about a month and a half ago,’” student president of the St. Olaf Philharmonia Ingrid Elzey ’17 said.

Additionally, both Norseman Band and the St. Olaf Philharmonia share musicians with other departmental music ensembles involved in preparations for the annual Christmas Festival, which further limits rehearsal time.

“For the students, it is crunch time: crunch time for classes, crunch time for Christmas Festival, because a lot of students overlap … So their schedules are super constrained,” Elzey said.

Benefits for a shared concert include a larger audience, more variety between the ensembles, less stress for the musicians as they have less material to learn and the chance for two ensembles who generally do not have the chance to work together to enjoy one another’s work.

“I think it will definitely be a fun concert. Our music is all really different. Most of it isn’t the normal ‘band music’ that you think of where you might say ‘That’s a little boring, or that’s cheesy’, and yes it is a little cheesy, but it’s fun cheesy. And our pieces are not that long, so it will be a fun eclectic mix that is fun for everyone,” Norseman Band horn player Annika Van Farowe ’19 said.

Norseman Band’s repertoire will include “American Salute” (1942) by Morton Gould, “Pale Blue on the Deep” (2011) by Aaron Perrine, “Nitro” (2006) by Frank Ticheli, “Bayou Breakdown” (2003) by Brant Karrick as well as one extra song that was not performed in the “Festival of Bands.” The songs stretch from reverent to brassy to regimented, but, overall, will be energetic.

St. Olaf Philharmonia’s program will include Mendelssohn’s “Symphony Number 5: Reformation” (1830) and “Hebrides” (1830), along with a brass fanfare and another piece.

“It’s going to be rowdy. Mendelssohn Symphony 5 is being played on almost the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and that’s why I like the piece … It’s not going to drag on and on. It’s going to be really fun, really quick … when you’re playing [the concert], it feels closer to 20 minutes,” Elzey said. “Symphony 5” will mark the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation in 2030.

Overall, the event will take around two hours. Pink cards will be offered for music majors in attendance and streaming will be available and archived at a broadcast media link from the St. Olaf website.