In the Bridges Hall of Music at Pomona College, the Pomona College Orchestra performed three pieces at their concert on Nov. 20. The orchestra’s sound was a well rounded ensemble that had the audience members engaged in their melodic rhythms and harmonies.
The 53-pieced ensemble consisted of 17 violins, four violas, six cellos, 3 bassists, three flutes, one piccolo, three oboes, four clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three percussionists, one piano, and one harp.
Eric Lindholm, professor of music and the orchestra director, has been conducting at Pomona College for the past 27 years. For this performance, he chose three pieces for the ensemble to perform. The first piece, called “Transient Moments,” was composed by 2020 graduate and music alumnus Oliver Dubon and commissioned by the conductor.
“(Dubon has) made a lot of progress in the last few years, so I just thought it would be a nice way to circle back with his relationship to our department and with our institution,” Lindholm said.
When the piece started, the brass and wood instruments began with an eerie sound that gave off the feeling of being transported into another realm. The balance and the musicality the orchestra had while playing was polished to perfection. The harmonies and melodies blended together beautifully making it feel as if you had headphones in.
Apart from the first piece, Lindholm also included a cello concerto by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich featuring solo cellist Maggie Parkins.
The concerto was a soft movie-like piece that had an emotional feel to it. In comparison to the other pieces, it started off slow and quiet. Once the pace picked up, the brass section led the strings into a call and response moment from the cello.
Watching Parkins allow the music to flow through her as she swayed back and forth to the beat was hypnotizing. When she began to play the power within her exerted through her bow as it danced across the cello strings.
A wave of emotions rained onto Parkins’ face as she answered the call and responses through the music.
“Everything about her was perfect,” Rev. John Fate, a priest at Pomona College, said. “She’s a phenomenal musician.”
Don Lawrence, alumnus of Pomona College and horn player in the orchestra, gained an adrenaline rush from this piece because he learned it the day of, as he was filling in for another player.
“That was very exciting,” Lawrence said. “You don’t get to sight-read a concert very often.”
The last piece called “Symphony No. 4 in B-flat, op.60” by Ludwig Van Beethoven was a 30-minute to 35-minute piece with four renditions of tempo that consist of adagio – allegro vivace, adagio, allegro molto e vivace, allegro ma non troppo.
This last piece had an elongated dramatic sound that resembled sneaking around and staying as quiet as possible. As Lindholm conducted, the orchestra played close attention to his cues to properly execute the crescendos and decrescendos. Examining the musicians, each person was glued to their music sheets while swaying side to side allowing the music to completely take over.
What was truly amazing was seeing how the musicians continued to replay their last piece three more times with a different pace. Watching Lindholm change the pace of his conducting while minimum eye contact was made on stage was a breathtaking sight to see.
“I just let the music take me,” Molly Wu, senior economics major and clarinetist in the orchestra, said. “I play the second part in Beethoven 4 and being able to listen to Alex who plays the first part was really cool because it’s like having a front row seat.”
Robyn Jones can be reached at email@example.com.