Orchestra Subscription Series continues with ‘death and life’

Lily Martis

Winners from the Nov. 2013 Concerto Competition, Graduate Yuka-Nakayama-Lewicki and Undergraduate Yuxuan Zhang will be featured in the Orchestra Subscription Series.

The Kent State University Hugh A. Glauser School of Music Orchestra will continue its 2013-2014 season with a performance highlighting the graduate and the undergraduate concerto competition winner on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 3:30 p.m. in the University Auditorium at Cartwright Hall.

The performance will feature contrasting themes of death and life. “The whole first half of the concert is about death in a powerful, thriller-horror-movie way,” said director Charles Latshaw.

Featured in the first half is Michael Doughtery’s “Red Cape Tango,” a musical story of Superman’s death when he fought Doomsday. Pianist Yuka-Nakayama-Lewicki will also perform “Totentanz” for Piano and Orchestra, S. 126 by Franz Liszt. “‘Totentanz’ means ‘dance of the dead’,” said Yuka. “It is dark and heavy and very spooky.”

Yuka has been playing piano since age 4 and is a graduate student of Associate Professor Donna Lee. She is pursing a master’s degree with an emphasis in chamber music. “Once I started to see my progress, I wanted to do it more,” Yuka said, “I wasn’t interested in anything else besides music.”

Lee, Yuka’s advisor and mentor said, “She is very talented, hard-working and receptive. It is especially exciting to witness her musical growth that has taken place in the last two years.”

At intermission, Latshaw enjoys giving audience members a chance to learn more about the concert in his mid-show “Chats with Charles.” During this time, Latshaw talks about the pieces in the first half and explains how they relate to the pieces in the second half.

Life will be the theme in the second half of the performance, which will feature Zoltán Kodály’s “Háry János Suite,” a composition about a soldier named Horatio and his life in the Hungarian army. This is paired with the first movement of “Der Schwanendreher,” a concerto for viola and small orchestra by Paul Hindemith, which features Junior Music Performance Major and Violist Yuxuan Zhang.

Yuxuan began her musical career playing the violin at age 5, but switched to the viola at age 13 when she joined the pre-college division at China’s Central Conservatory. “I love the sound of the viola,” Yuxuan said. “It is more deeper and stronger.”

This being her first time playing with an orchestra Yuxuan said, “I want the audience to love the sound of the viola.

Latshaw spoke of the concerto competition winners saying, “Both are really strong, powerful musicians who have great musical ideas and convey them in a way that is exciting and compassionate.”

Different from the calmer atmosphere portrayed in the Series last semester, Latshaw says, “This concert is big, it is loud, it is fast and it is exciting all the way through.” The Orchestra Subscription Series presents four performances throughout the year, and Sunday’s performance will be the third in the Series with the fourth and final performance taking place April 27.

For more information regarding the Kent State University Orchestra go to https://www.kent.edu/music/ensembles/orchestra.cfm.

Contact Lily Martis at [email protected].