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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

The Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra performs their winter concert

In collaboration with Roth Visiting Scholar Tomeka Reid, Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra performed music from Reid as well as composers Felix Mendelssohn and Jessica Pavone in a blend of musical styles.

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On Saturday, Feb. 17, the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra performed their winter concert in Rollins Chapel to a packed audience. The orchestra also performed the previous night to an audience during their open dress rehearsal.

Conducted by DSO director Filippo Ciabatti, the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra performed a 90-minute set that included Mendelssohn’s Third Symphony, “Scottish,” Jessica Pavone’s jazz-inspired “When the World Changes Around You” and the cello concerto “Essay No. 1” composed by Roth Visiting Scholar Tomeka Reid. Reid also performed in the piece as a soloist.

According to Ciabatti, the concert was built from a strong collaborative effort between different artists and musical styles. It originated from a collaboration between Ciabatti and Coast Jazz Orchestra director Taylor Ho Bynum.

“There is a whole tradition of American music that partly feeds from the jazz tradition, that partly feeds from a certain kind of modern music and that has created some interesting composers,” Ciabatti said. “So [Bynum and I] thought, ‘Why not try and see how these two worlds can talk to each other, and what would that be?’” 

The DSO’s concertmaster and first violinist Annie Mills ’26 noted that the concert was a more unique blend in genre and composition than previous concerts she has played in the DSO.

“The repertoire for this concert was a really fantastic blend of modern and classical,” Mills said. “It was such an honor to play a piece as difficult and famous as Mendelssohn’s ‘Scottish Symphony,’ but it was also an incredible and unique experience to play the music of and learn from two female composers who are still alive today.”

Mills called serving as concertmaster “an honor” and expressed how hard all of the musicians in the ensemble work in rehearsing.

“It’s a really amazing thing to perform alongside other individuals that are passionate about music,” Mills said.

The DSO was joined in a performance on cello by Reid during her piece, “Essay No. 1.”

“[Reid] joined [the student orchestra members in rehearsal] during the term a couple of times,” Ciabatti said. “[Reid] came [for] the last intense rehearsal, and the piece came together.”

During the collaboration, students got to work closely with Reid during rehearsals throughout the term leading up to the performance. 

“Reid was wonderful to work with,” Mills said. “Not only did she compose ‘Essay No.1,’ but she also developed several new techniques to achieve certain textures and sounds. Playing with Ms. Reid was the first time that many members of the DSO had done improvisatory playing.”

With the Hopkins Center still under construction, the DSO continues to adjust when performing outside of its typical environment. Having just passed the two-year marker since the Hopkins Center’s expansion began in December 2022, many campus music groups are still adapting to the change.

“We don’t have the hall that allows the kind of large orchestras that we used to have,” Ciabatti said. “That’s one of the reasons why we’re also looking at all these different creative projects because we think it might be now the time to experiment a bit with the programming of the orchestra considering that we have to make it work in these spaces. [Rollins Chapel] is a beautiful acoustic space … it’s just a matter of capacity.”

Ciabatti said he hopes audience members who attended the concert can see how an orchestra can change and grow.

“I hope they just came out of the performance open-minded by the fact that the orchestra is an instrument that is living and breathing and evolving with the time,” Ciabatti said.

Mills added that she hopes that attendees recognize the “hard work, time and dedication” DSO members put in to organize the concert. 

The DSO’s upcoming spring concert is set to feature classical orchestral pieces from Beethoven and Prokofiev. DSO member Jason Pak ’24 will also play Hummel on the viola.

“It’s an honor to be chosen as a … soloist for the next concert,” Pak said. “To play with the orchestra that I’ve been a part of since freshman fall and be featured as a soloist is a true honor.”

The DSO’s Spring concert will be held on Sunday, May 5 at 2 p.m. in Rollins Chapel.