Last Saturday, members of the Kenyon and Knox County communities came together in the audience and on the stage of Rosse Hall to enjoy the Knox County Symphony’s winter concert. Conducted by Professor of Music Ben Locke, the symphony orchestra captivated the audience with seven pieces, five of which featured the winners of the Symphony’s annual Young Musicians Competition.
Opening with Brahms’ Tragic Overture, the show began with a powerful and chilling first piece. Locke explained that in choosing historical pieces like this one for the orchestra, “there’s a double edge—one is entertaining the audience and the other is educating the players.” This collaborative process of educating and entertaining was apparent in the way the orchestra was able to share the experience with the audience throughout the night.
Following the opening sequence, the solo acts of the winners of the Young Musicians Competition commenced. Second-place winners of the high school division, cellists Caleb Zak and Jack Welter, took the stage for an expressive rendition of Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violoncellos. Throughout the piece, Zak and Welter shared quick and confident glances, engaging the audience with their unique musical connection. Following Zak and Welter, first-place winner Daniel Pastor delivered a lively performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue on piano. His spirited solo weaved in and out of the rich orchestral support, animating and exciting the room before intermission.
In the collegiate division, the second-place winners, sopranos Karolina Edlund ’22 and Linnea Mumma ’22, sang arias from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Delibes’ Lakmê. With the gentle and flowing accompaniment of the orchestra, Edlund and Mumma breathed emotion into each of their words, enchanting the room. The final Young Musician Competition winner, August Corper ’21, performed Kabalevsky’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, op.48. Standing assuredly before the audience, Corper delivered an ebullient performance to close out the student solos.
The addition of the featured soloists to the concert hardly seemed forced or out of the ordinary. In fact, with the exception of Edlund and Mumma, all of the soloists are members of the Symphony Orchestra themselves.
“They’ve been a part of [the orchestra], so in another sense, we all know them, and it’s their opportunity to shine,” Locke said. “The orchestra really prides themselves on being good supporters.”
The concert came to a rapturous close with Bizet’s Carmen Suite No. 1, where the orchestra played with jubilant energy.
“[I] decided to finish with something that would feature the orchestra … Whatever you’re doing with a concerto you have to play quietly, to let them [the soloist] be the star. It can be frustrating for an orchestra to play everything softly,” Locke said. “That’s why there’s a starting piece that’s loud and an ending piece that’s a combination of loud and soft.”
The combination of tempos carried the audience members on a journey that brought the winter concert to a thrilling close.