Ruth Asawa School of the Arts Orchestra Concert

Matt Cmiel 

This concert, being Maestro Matt Cmiel's last concert at SOTA, was filled with many emotions, for good or for bad. There were lots of tears, but I think that the tears were for the best and that Maestro Cmiel will achieve many great things.

The first piece on the program was Concerto in f minor, Opus. 8, Winter from The Four Seasons Antonio Vivaldi. Allegro non molto included soloist Anju Goto; Largo Kosette Rodriguez-Sanchez; and Allegro Charles Thollander. Ms. Goto's confident performance assured the audience that what she was doing up there was extremely easy. We all know it was a good performance when the audience thinks that it came naturally and easy to the one on stage. Ms. Rodriquez-Sanchez performed the long, melodious phrases with fragrance of tone, allowing the audience to bathe in the sound and forget about everything. Mr. Thollander was very artistic both musically and visually. After performing his movement, he flung his arm up with the bow, intriguing the audience.

Triple Quartet by Steve Reich was the next piece before the intermission. Before this piece was performed, Maestro Cmiel said a few words about the piece and Steve Reich. Reich takes tape loops and creates "phasing patterns". Phasing is basically when two repetitive melodies are played at the same time but at different tempos eventually causing the melodies to go out of sync. Essentially, the melodies start together, gradually go out of unison, and then come back together. This is what Reich did in this piece. For me, this technique was foreign and I see that I should google modern composers more often...

The soloists in this piece, in addition to the orchestra, were Leah Leiner and Theo Haber on violins, Sydney Van Bueren on viola, and Kyle Burke on bass. Did I love it? Yes. Can I hum the tune? Maybe? What I understood was that all of the soloists and the orchestra were playing the same repetitive melody but it sounded like a lot of different tunes because they were out of sync, as was described in the above paragraph. This piece had charm to it, and I enjoyed the fact that the soloists had amplified the sounds of their instruments with speakers. It was quite the performance! There was a whole scene during tuning time, and Mr. Haber took extra long to tune because there was something with one of his strings. The audience broke into an enthusiastic applause when Mr. Haber was done.

Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Opus. 92 2nd Movement, Allegretto by Ludwig Van Beethoven was my favorite piece on the program after the very last Samuel Barber piece, which I will get to soon. The Beethoven was performed with passion coming from both Maestro Cmiel and all of his students. What do we love in a good performance? Technique? Stage presence? Or passion? Of course all of these factors add up to produce a good show, but who needs technique if there is no passion?

Im Wunderschönen Monat Mai from Dichterliebe by Robert Schumann was performed next. This piece is a song written for voice and piano, so it should be sung rather than performed as an orchestra. The piece ended with an unresolved chord because of the yearning experienced by the narrator.

Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Franz Liszt was performed in a very silly way. Before the musicians started playing, Maestro Cmiel said,

"We're not taking this seriously, and neither should you."

Matt Cmiel and the Orchestra seniors with their presents
Since this piece is 'that one piece in that one cartoon', everyone was excited for what was to come. After an exciting adventure, some musicians popped fire crackers on stage.

At this point in the program, cello senior Elizabeth Jones presented Maestro Cmiel with the senior class's present: a recording of Stravinsky's Firebird. After that, Maestro Cmiel presented each of his senior students with a fruit that most fit their personality.

String Quartet, Opus 11 2nd movement, Adagio for strings by Samuel Barber was a great conclusion to this tear stained concert.

This was truly a spectacular evening and I feel bad for all those who missed it. Don't forget to come to Knuth Hall at SF State today at 2:00 to hear SOTA Band perform, conducted by Maestro Brad Hogarth.


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