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VSO performs classic Bach

The Valdosta Symphony Orchestra performed “Back to Bach,” Saturday at 8pm in the Whitehead Auditorium.

The program included a concerto for two pianists, performed by Dr. Kevin Hampton of Armstrong Atlantic State University and VSU’s Dr. Lyle Indergaard, and the work of Brahms’s Fourth Symphony.

“I began planning this concert a year ago with the VSO’s executive director, Doug Farwell, and have been studying the music since then,” Dr. Howard Hsu, music director of the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra, said. “From the beginning of the semester I have been rehearsing the student component of the VSO twice a week, and two weeks before the concert our faculty members joined our rehearsals,” he said.

Finding a collection that suited the VSO was tricky for Dr. Hsu in the beginning.

“I wanted to perform the Brahms Fourth Symphony, and was having some difficulty pairing it with other works for the concert,” Dr. Hsu, who is also VSU’s director of orchestra studies, said.

Dr. Hsu explained that the last movement of Brahms Fourth Symphony used a theme from a Bach cantata—a vocal composition accompanied by an instrument.

“Every work in the concert was either composed or inspired by Bach,” Dr. Hsu said.

The two pianists Dr. Indergaard and Dr. Hampton frequently perform piano duets with one another.

“[O]ur soloists joined us for three intensive rehearsals and an additional youth concert for over 300 school children [Friday night],” Dr. Hsu said.

“After the concert, the children were able to ask us questions,” Dr. Indergaard said. “The first question was, ‘how long have you played the piano?’ You should have heard the gasps when Dr. Hampton said 44 years and I said 55 years! It certainly made us feel old.”

The audience reached an estimate of over 600 people. Whitehead Auditorium can seat just over 700 people, comfortably.

“I performed the Bach Concerto in C minor for two pianos and orchestra with Dr. Hampton and the VSO,” Dr. Indergaard said.

Dr. Indergaard is a professional classical pianist with five degrees in music, currently working at VSU as a Professor of Piano, Keyboard Area Head and Graduate Music Coordinator.

“The music of Bach is one of the cornerstones of the piano repertoire,” Dr. Indergaard said. “All pianists grow up studying Bach’s music, and perform and teach it their entire careers.”

“I was hoping to not only introduce the incredible Brahms Fourth Symphony to Valdosta […] but also have audiences experience music that is not only rigorously constructed but also beautiful and emotional,” Dr. Hsu said.

“After the performance, I was ecstatic about the excellent performances by our soloists and orchestra, and I was also exhausted because the Brahms leaves you physically and emotionally drained,” Dr. Hsu said.

The reaction was overwhelming for the performers.

“It was a great privilege and pleasure to perform with Dr. Hsu and the VSO,” Dr. Indergaard said.

“The audience was extremely enthusiastic and appreciative, which made the experience even more special,” Dr. Hsu said.

“My favorite one was ‘Symphony No. 4 in E minor,’” Terri Harris, a sophomore education major said. “It was very lively and had a lot of upbeat tempos; the string instruments were good. It was by far my favorite.”

Nov. 5, the VSO will be showcasing works by Mozart and Haydn. World-renowned cellist Wendy Warner will return to Valdosta for the event to perform Haydn’s lyrical Cello Concerto in D Major.

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