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nina lutz—The Tech

Dominique Hoskin directing Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings.

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IAP Symphony Orchestra

Performed by MIT IAP Symphony Orchestra

Sunday, Jan. 31

Kresge Auditorium

When you apply to MIT, you talk about five activities that meant the most to you in high school, and a number of people here put a musical or arts activity. But MIT demands a lot from us — I really don’t have to tell you that. And while the theater groups and musical ensembles are alive and well around campus, not everyone can participate over the semester.

That’s why there’s IAP Orchestra. The orchestra is student-directed and student-led and runs only during IAP, concluding with an hour-long concert at the end of the month.

This year’s concert featured two pieces, directed by two different students. The concert opened with Siegfried Idyll by Richard Wagner, directed by Gabriel Lesnick ’16.

A surprisingly large ensemble created a warm, melodic performance. The thirteen measures of trumpet in Idyll were clear, full-bodied, and well performed by Patrick Shin ’19. Delicate flute parts added hints of whimsical flavor and brought a playful twist to the piece. As a saxophonist in high school, I personally enjoyed the depth and body from the horns’ and woodwinds’ counter melodies.

But I will say the strings stole the show. Despite only one month of practice, the violins nailed many of the intricate, fast melodies in Idyll and kept the swaying, youthful melody of the song throughout the whole performance. I enjoyed the different violin sections playing off one another and the violas’ and cellos’ counter melodies. Coming from a marching band background where a large percussion section holds the ensemble together, I was impressed with bass player Tina Kambil ’16 and her ability to keep a pulse going through the strings section during the movement.

The second piece was the five movements of Antonin Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings, conducted by Dominique Hoskin G. Hoskin’s directing had a lighter, more whimsical feel. I enjoyed watching him direct as it was a new style to me. His hands and arms moved more freely, in gestures that reminded me of dancing. But, even more so, I enjoyed the piece itself. I had never heard Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings. Before this weekend, I had only been familiar with Tchaikovsky’s piece of the same title.

However, I actually liked Dvorak’s style and melodies better — the movements had greater contrast with one another while still keeping a united performance. “Moderato,” the first movement, had a wonderful theme passed between the first violins, second violins, and cellos, with the violas providing a pulse that I found enjoyable. The first movement ends in a dance-like fashion and closes with chords that open to the second, “Allegro con moto,” which was a beautiful waltz-like movement. The third movement is the lively “Vivace” and contrasts greatly with the fourth, slower “Larghetto.”

While “Larghetto” wasn’t my favorite movement and wasn’t as rhythmically interesting as its predecessors, I found the chords lovely. Kresge has beautiful acoustics highlighting the size and harmony of the orchestra. During that fourth movement, I found myself astounded that they had put this together in only a month.

The finale was grand and lively. The rhythms and melodies were bursting with excitement and musical detail. I loved the intricate little flurries that the violins accomplished. I, and everyone else in the audience, was left satisfied with a solid conclusion.

A good number of the musicians were too. My friend, Theresa Machemer ’19, saw IAP Orchestra as a way to stay connected with music when she wasn’t worried about classes.

Theresa told me that, “Playing music with people who enjoy playing music for a month … it was good … usually you have longer than a month to put two pieces together, so it was definitely rewarding to see it go from start to finish so quickly and to have something complete by the end of the month.”

Much like the dancing melodies in the songs the orchestra played, IAP gives us the freedom to move and soar and give time to the intricate melodies that seem so drowned out during the regular semester.