‘It’s so varied and dramatic’: MU Philharmonic Orchestra presents Stravinsky’s Firebird | Local

As the lights of the Missouri Theater dimmed, violinist and assistant violinist Johanny Veiga Barbosa stood facing the rest of the musicians on stage.

Barbosa asked the oboe to play a chord note, and soon the solitary oboe note was met by the rest of the orchestra.

Now in tune, the concert had officially begun and Barbosa resumed his place at conductor Stephen Radcliffe’s left hand.

On Saturday evening, the MU School of Music Philharmonic Orchestra gave a concert of jazz music and compositions by Ernest Chausson, Paul Hindemith and Igor Stravinsky.

Saxophonist Charlie Mosley, a former MU 2020, kicked off the evening with jazz selections from “Charlie Parker with Strings.”

As the winner of the music school’s concerto competition in the spring of 2019, Mosley had the opportunity to perform a solo alongside the orchestra – a solo that was delayed for a few years.

“I’ve been preparing for it for four years due to delays with COVID. So just having the opportunity to finally play was amazing,” he said.

Mosley said performing this music was an “all-time dream”.

“I think the way Charlie Parker did it is very intricate yet melodic and beautiful,” Mosley said.

He added: “I just thought it would be an amazing experience to try and do that.”

Mosley’s performance was followed by a solo performance by violinist and concertmaster Alexandre Negrão.

Negrão was the winner of the 2021 spring concerto competition. His solo, titled Poem Op. 25 for violin and orchestra, was a symphonic poem with a single continuous movement. The play was originally inspired and named after the short story “The Song of Triumphant Love”, written by Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev in 1881.

The difficult parts of the Poème are at the beginning, Negrão said, unlike most violin concertos, where the skill of the violinist is showcased near the end.

“To be able to perform this piece was very insightful and rewarding,” he said. “Especially to play with all my orchestra friends.”

As concertmaster, Negrão acts as leader of the string section.

“It’s basically a conductor’s right hand, but on the left side,” he joked.

This right arm, or “spalla”, as it is called in its native language, Portuguese, is responsible for holding the string section together.

Complexity stemming from varying rhythm, fluctuating tones and overall intensity seemed to be the themes of Saturday’s concert. The orchestra’s star performance, Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, presents a high degree of difficulty.

“It’s so varied and dramatic,” Radcliffe said. “It can only inspire you.”

The Firebird tells the story of a prince who works with the Firebird to defeat an evil wizard and save a princess.

Much like the suggestive nature of impressionist paintings, the Firebird Suite is made up of many small details creating a big picture.

Negrão said that small details like the high-pitched beat of a piccolo suggest a bird in flight and the flapping of its wings.

A recording of Saturday’s MU Philharmonic Orchestra concert is available on the music school website Youtube channel.

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