The Maryville College Orchestra and MC Community Chorus ventured far beyond the familiar boundaries of classical music in their most recent performance, the Spring Pops Concert Monday, April 30th in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre.
Instead of the repertoire most audiences would usually expect to hear, this concert featured songs, pieces and medleys from well-known musicals and popular operas such as “Les Miserables,” “Carmen” and “Carnival of the Animals,” performed by community members and MC’s very own faculty and students.
The bass line opened up the performance with a piece called “The Elephant,” from “Carnival of the Animals.” The line of players was spread wide to make room for the girth of these giant string instruments as they most accurately personified the cumbersome movements of an elephant’s stride with steady bowing and rumbling bass notes that resounded through the hall.
Next to perform was “Concerto in C – Allegro Spiritoso,” by Haydn.
As Marina Jaffe, MC librarian and—might I say—astounding oboe player, walked onstage to begin her solo.
The piece’s theme unfolded in a dance-like manner, with ascending phrase endings and a solo from Jaffe which sparkled and leapt out from the orchestra with grace, beauty and unparalleled instrumental control.
The concerto was followed closely by “Carmen Suite No. 1.” It was quite enjoyable to watch the faces of the crowd around me as the strings placed their bows on the frets and began playing the melody from Carmen. It became obvious that the crowd enjoyed the familiar tune as I watched their heads bob along to the beat of “Los Toreadors.”
With an endless supply of easily-recognized melodies, Carmen is a beloved opera, accessible and comprehensible even to those who are foreign to opera or orchestral performance.
After a quick intermission, the community choir opened the second half of the program with a medley from “Phantom of the Opera,” a dark musical depicting the love between a mysterious phantom and a young Christine, by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Accompanied by the orchestra, the medley began with the dark, dramatic and most well-known song from the musical, “Phantom of the Opera.”
The high notes in “Angel of Music” thrilled the ears of listeners, and the closing song, “Point of No Return,” was a brooding piece that ended the medley but propelled the program forward.
There was no alternative but to progress into several beautiful yet lamenting songs from “Les Miserables.” All the songs had vocalists leading the ensemble.
The finale to both the actual musical and this spectacular concert was “Finale,” featuring community member Vaughn Jones and senior MC students Erin Carter and Jade Watts.
Amazingly talented students and community members alike dazzled us with their vocal chops and instrumental mastery in this fantastic event. It was one of the best ways to close this spring semester for the arts.
We cannot wait until they charm us again with their peerless musicality next year.