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Ensemble Spotlight
Crane Symphony Orchestra
Christopher Lanz, Conductor

National Festival Orchestra
Lukas Foss, Conductor
Eugene Minor, Associate Conductor
Krista Stewart, Violin

At Carnegie Hall

Raechel Alexander, Manager, Public Affairs

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 16, 2005

CSO Program:

Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64, Christopher Lanz, Conductor: Andante: Allegro con Anima; Andante Cantabile, con alcuna licenza; Valse: Allegro moderato; Finale; Andante maestoso; Allegro vivace.

ASO Program:

Ravel’s Tzigane, Eugene Minor, Conductor; Krista Stewart, Violin

Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in D major, “Titan”, Lukas Foss, Conductor: Slowly, dragging; Moving strongly; Solemnly and measured; Moving stormily.

The Crane Symphony Orchestra was formed in 1839, the second earliest college orchestra in the country after Harvard. The permanent conductors have been Samuel Spurbeck, Maurice Baritaud, John Jadlos, Richard Stephan, and Christopher Lanz. At one time the group was so large that it had to be split, as it is again doing now. For many years a tour was undertaken every year, until financial restrictions curtailed the practice.

In addition to the permanent faculty, memorable performances have been given by such guest conductors as Franz Allers, Nadia Boulanger, Igor Buketoff, Sarah Caldwell, Stanley Chapple, Aaron Copland, Rodney Eichenberger, Alfred Gershfeld, Howard Hanson, Lukas Foss, Thor Johnson, Jan Meyerowitz, Charles O'Neill, Eve Queler, Vincent Persichetti, Adnan Saygun, Gunther Schuller, Robert Shaw, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Virgil Thomson. (Conductor’s Personal Notes).

Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony was quite well presented by the Crane Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the very capable Christopher Lanz. Many passages were reminiscent of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet score, with two distinctly different themes merging toward the final movement. In addition to ballet, I heard spinning waltzes, in stark contrast to brooding bass-driven themes. There are over 80 young musicians in the Crane Orchestra, and they performed each distinctly separate movement with eager thoughtfulness and skill.

Ravel’s Tzigane, Concert Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra, brought to the Carnegie Hall stage an amazingly powerful and poised, award winning 14 year old, named Krista Stewart from Wisconsin. Ms. Stewart is an inspired violinist, who literally attacked this work with muscular and psychic intensity. This was not a shy, young performer, and the existential quality of the Tzigane was not lost on the drama and confidence. Eugene Minor, who is also a composer of symphonies, a piano concerto, and operas, conducted the National Festival Orchestra.

The National Festival Orchestra, founded nine years ago by conductor/composer Lukas Foss, brings talented young musicians from across the US to New York for a special residency, working with legendary conductors and performing in a final concert at Carnegie Hall. Each season, a new orchestra is chosen through audition tapes. (Program Notes). National Festival Orchestra is about twice the size of Crane and filled the stage with young, accomplished musicians. The edgy Tzigane was followed with a solo violin rendition of a Bach Adagio, and Ms. Stewart received numerous accolades.

Mahler’s First Symphony was performed by the entire National Festival Orchestra, conducted by its dedicated leader, Lukas Foss. Maestro Foss has been awarded Honorary Doctorates and also composes, teaches, and performs on piano. He was Composer in Residence at Harvard University and has conducted important orchestras around the globe. He has also recorded solo piano works by Bach and Mozart. (Program Notes).

The Mahler was outstanding, with early muffled percussion and horns, followed by tempestuous tones in Moving Stormily. Highly structured lyricism, including whistles and flutes, seemed to dissolve into tiny fragments of repeated themes, later merging into a cacophony of vibrant musicality. The violins at times conversed with the violas and celli to generate mesmerizing momentum of soaring strings. This symphony remains majestic and monumental, with the quoting and re-quoting of individual themes of evocative longing and familiar songs. The torrential finale was a well-timed hurricane, and Maestro Foss and his National Festival Orchestra received a standing ovation.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at