On Thursday, Sept. 22, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra performed in St. Olaf’s very own Boe Chapel. Both Oles and members of the greater community were in attendance to hear this world renowned group perform the “Masters of the German Baroque,” a series of pieces aimed towards celebrating some of Germany’s most famous composers such as Georg Philipp Telemann and Johann Sebastian Bach.
One of the main characteristics of the Baroque style was evident in the use of the harpsichord, a piano-like instrument that was played by the orchestra’s director Jonathan Cohen. Serving as both conductor and performer, Cohen was able to effortlessly lead the orchestra with his immaculate sense of rhythm and musicality.
The concert opened with the “Don Quixote Suite” by Telemann, which had seven very short and distinct movements, followed by the “Sonata in C Major” by Dietrich Buxtehude. The Sonata featured another Baroque instrument, the viola da gamba, alongside two violins and the harpsichord. Each instrument had moments in the piece when its melodies were distinct and other times when it blended in harmonious balance.
The second half of the concert introduced two new instruments, the flute and the bassoon, for the “Concerto in B Minor” by Telemann. “Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major” by Bach concluded the concert, clearly showcasing the shared emotion and passion that each member possessed.
“It was exciting to see so many students in the audience taking advantage of this opportunity. I’m especially happy to know my orchestra students are soaking up the amazing sounds of this incredible orchestra and, in the case of this performance, observing the nuances of Baroque style played at a very high level,” St. Olaf Orchestra conductor Steven Amundson said.
“And it was icing on the cake that SPCO principal bassist, Zach Cohen, came down early to lead a master class with all the St. Olaf string bass players before the concert. I believe the SPCO has been coming to campus for over 30 years, and we certainly hope this will continue. When I speak with the musicians about their visits to our campus (and to Carleton), they always smile and tell me how much they appreciate our audiences, so I think the feeling is mutual.”
The SPCO also introduced a new initiative to make tickets for children and students free starting in the 2016-17 season. According to the group, this would allow for better access to high level performances for anyone interested. The group also offers some of the most affordable tickets to adults as well, with many of the prices starting at $12. For more information about upcoming concerts and events, please go to www.thespco.org.