On October 23, a small group of Providence students and professors were able to attend a Pasadena Symphony Orchestra concert at the Ambassador Auditorium.
The first sight they saw once inside of the Auditorium was a magnificent three tiered chandelier. Students were able to attend a pre-concert lecture where the conductor of the Orchestra, James DePreist, was introduced and answered questions about himself and the concert music. After the lecture they explored the building while they waited for the concert to start. Outside, a string chamber group performed a couple of classical pieces in front of the lit, swan-shaped fountain.
The Hall is acoustically designed for large concerts and television broadcasts. Dr. Larry Mumford, visiting professor of music theory at Providence, explained that “the Ambassador Auditorium is not only architecturally impressive — it’s also historic, since eminent American concert musicians like Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland once conducted there.”
The concert began at eight and the first piece of the evening was the “Overture to La Gazza Ladra” (The Thieving Magpie) by Gioacchino Rossini. This upbeat, majestic overture opened with two drum roles and the start of the overture reminded one of a royal ball. The reoccurring theme of the higher octave instruments, like the piccolo, playing fast, high notes, sounded like a bird flitting from tree to tree. All of these themes serve the purposes of telling the story of how a servant girl was accused of stealing a silver spoon and was sentenced to death (portrayed by the reoccurring drum rolls). According to the program notes, “After much confusion, she is saved from the gallows when the spoon is found in a magpie nest.” To hear the overture, click here.
Professor Luana De Groot Cany, adjunct professor of music at Providence, said that the highlight of the concert was “Anne Akiko Meyers’ performance of Barber’s concerto on the King of Spain’s 1730 Stradivarius violin. The rich tone of this royal instrument mastered by the brilliance of the violinist’s technique was an inspiring experience.” One of the most rare violins in the world, the Stradivarius, worth 3.6 million dollars and once owned by the King of Spain, was played by Meyers to accompany the orchestra on several pieces and to play an encore piece called “Summertime” by George Gershwin.
The Pasadena Symphony Orchestra’s new location at the Ambassador Auditorium is only about four miles away from Providence’s campus. Freshman student Marissa Branson said that she had “never seen anyone play so fast or heard high notes sound so good on a violin.” She went on to say, “The concert hall was beautiful and the concert was amazing!” It is hard to describe the beauty of more than 60 instruments playing together to produce complex and awe-inspiring music. To experience the full wonder of the Pasadena Symphony Orchestra, check out their website for upcoming concerts.