The Emory Junior Chamber Orchestra came up with quite a brilliantly varied orchestral programme conducted with panache and style by the versatile Georgia Lambros Ekonomou. The first work on the programme was Franz Josef Haydn’s Symphony Nr 13 which is not usually often on concert programmes. The orchestra was delightful in its inflexions and its arrangement by Thomas Laloie was particularly ravishing with the players contributing to an excellent performance all round.
Next on the programme was another rare work, William Hofeldt’s ‘Lullaby’ which was composed in 1951. Yet again we had the orchestra players particularly the strings showing a remarkable intensity in all proceedings with Ekonomou coaxing them to play quite brilliantly all around.
Tango Noir by Reynard Burns was the next piece on the programme and this is a rather strange work full of motor dance rhythms and incredible intensity. I was quite astonished by the great versatility of the Emory Chamber Players who delved deeply into the soul of the work with Ekonomou bringing the best out of them in every way.
The next work on the programme was Richard Meyer’s Incantations, a work which was completely unknown to me when I heard it for the first time. It would suffice to say that the Junior Chamber Orchestra played with a virile intensity that was quite overwhelming for their age and they also brought an incredible panache to the music.
The second part of the programme featured the Emory Youth Symphony Orchestra where the programme went up one level. The first work was the Festive Orchestra by Dmitri Shostakovich which was winningly done. The work features several influences most notably from the Russian tradition such as Gliere. One also finds later works imbued in the Overture such as the Fourth Symphony where one has the elements of biting irony as well as the influence of ballet which was not really Shostakovich’s métier. This time the conductor was Richard Prior who conducted with superb flair and intensity and really showed his mettle. I was also very impressed by the combination of strings and woodwind which was astonishingly well timed for a youth orchestra.
Finally we had the Second Symphony by Alexander Borodin which is another great Russian work and which is amongst the composer’s most popular works. This is a work of great spontaneity and immense power and actually took seven years to complete. The first movement’s imposing theme came out very well with the orchestra showing off its brass and strings section very well indeed. The second theme also includes some interesting work for the cello and woodwinds which was also beautifully done. Prior was circumspect in his interpretation of this movement recalling the great conductors such as Rafael Kubelik and Paul Kletzki who conducted with similar passion for the piece.
In the second movement we have a fine scherzo which also included some incredibly virtuosic pizzicato playing. The central section featured some lovely oboe playing which also showcased the soloist’s talents. The third movement features a lovely horn section and all leads into the final movement which demonstrates an incredible sense of momentum and changes of mood that culminate in an explosion of colours. I was almost at the edge of my seat in the finale which also showcased Prior’s incredible talents. It was indeed a great concert and memorable for the state of Georgia.
Maes, Francis, tr. Pomerans, Arnold J. and Erica Pomerans, A History of Russian Music: From Kamarinskaya to Babi Yar (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 2002). ISBN 0-520-21815-9.
George Sarton (1939). "Borodin (1833–87)". Osiris 7: 224–260. doi:10.1086/368505. JSTOR 301543.