Orchestra Tackles Symphony, Opera, and Student Composition

With the semester coming to a close, the Swarthmore College Orchestra is preparing for their final concert of the 2018-2019 season.

Coming off of their performance of the classic Dvořák Cello Concerto last semester with Amy Barston, director Andrew Hauze ’04 describes the SCO’s upcoming program as an “exciting mix of familiar and unfamiliar music.” The concert will feature Amy Beach’s “Gaelic” Symphony in E minor, debuted in 1896 as the first symphony ever published by a female composer. Beach herself was heavily influenced by Dvořák’s work, and wrote the “Gaelic” Symphony as her own take on the concept of a “New World Symphony.” “I’ve been wanting to program the piece for years,” writes Hauze, “but a new edition didn’t come out until 2017, finally correcting many errors and making the parts easy to read (they had previously been copies of old handwritten parts!). It’s an intensely powerful work, filled with Irish folk tunes blended into Beach’s own grand style.”

Along with the Beach symphony, the Orchestra will also be playing two operatic classics: Rossini’s Overture to The Barber of Seville and “Micaela’s Aria” from Bizet’s Carmen featuring Rebecca Regan ’19, as well as debuting On Narrow Foot-Bridges, a tone poem by Swarthmore’s own Lili Tobias ’19.

“There were many lovely coincidences surrounding the first half of the program,” Hauze explains. “Lili has been a force for community building in our program over the last several years, as she has been regularly showcasing student performers in premieres of her own music and revivals of neglected works by women composers in Parrish lunchtime concerts and on her own senior recital. Lili’s comprehensive exam was on her specialty, the music of Amy Beach, so I was delighted to be able to include a new work by Lili alongside the Beach symphony.”

The coincidences don’t end there. Rebecca Regan, a soprano and Swarthmore’s 2019 Concerto Competition winner, regularly collaborates with Tobias to debut vocal works, and her original composition will be conducted by assistant conductor Shira Samuels-Shragg ‘20 on Saturday.

The Swarthmore College Orchestra will perform on Saturday, April 27th at 8:00 PM in Lang Concert Hall.

Andy Zhang ’22