Section: Arts

Knox County Symphony concert showcases flute and oboe talents

By Anna Dunlavey

With the capacity to seat over 2,000 people, the R. R. Hodges Chapel on the campus of Mount Vernon Nazarene University is already a tough venue to fill. Factor in Saturday night’s Ohio State-Illinois football game in the same time slot, and it seemed as though it would be very hard for the Knox County Symphony Orchestra to draw a crowd for their 8 p.m. concert last Saturday.

Defying the devotion of a Buckeye fan, a group of over 300 people came to watch the performance directed by Robert A. Oden Jr. Professor of Music Benjamin Locke. The crowd was in for a longer concert than they might have originally thought, but they left feeling blown away by the county’s talented orchestra.

Locke expressed satisfaction with the turnout. “They were substantial and enthusiastic, and that’s what matters,” he said.

The Knox County Symphony Orchestra performed multiple pieces in the first half of the performance. They began with Gioachino Rossini’s Overture to William Tell, and then performed Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question.

Locke said he created the program for this concert before auditions for the orchestra at the beginning of the school year and added The Unanswered Question after auditions, specifically to showcase some of the talents he had accepted into the orchestra. “I had four very competent flute players try out for the orchestra and I wanted to put them all to work with a piece utilizing each of them equally well,” Locke said.

The Unanswered Question requires both an orchestra and four solo flutes. The solos were performed by Kenyon students Sarah Bence ’15, Eleanor Lopatto ’17 and Clara Yetter ’18, and community member Elaine Benedict.

Although this added more time to the overall performance, Locke stood by his decision. “I think it was worth it to take advantage of the talent that’s in front of me,” he said.

The next piece in the order was Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto in D Minor for Oboe, with the solo oboe part performed by Adjunct Instructor of Oboe and Bassoon P. Bailey Sorton.

The first half of the concert ended after about an hour with a performance of Georges Bizet’s L’Arlésienne Suite No. 1. After a brief intermission, the orchestra performed Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5 in D major, op. 107 (Reformation), a piece 40 minutes in length that comprised the rest of the performance. 

The orchestra also holds concerts at Kenyon, but they do not limit themselves to performing on the Hill. “Because it is a symphony orchestra from Knox County, we want to make sure it doesn’t come off as just Kenyon’s orchestra,” Locke said. “It’s available to our Kenyon students, but it is not a Kenyon orchestra. It is the Knox County Symphony Orchestra.”

The group will return to Kenyon later this month. On Nov. 16, the orchestra will perform their annual free children’s concert in Rosse Hall, a concert which is meant, as Locke said, for “children of all ages” to enjoy.

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