By Tom Loughlin Jr for Utica Phoenix
Concert-goers at the Clinton Symphony Orchestra of the Mohawk Valley concert “A Celebration of Strings,” Sunday October 3, got mere for their money than a sterling performance of the music of Holst, Britten, Bartok and Tchaikovsky. As a bonus they received enjoyment – enhancing information on the component works in comments by the new Music Director/conductor of the CSOMV.
The concert was held at the Clinton Central Schools Performing Arts Complex.
Maestro Octavio Más-Arocas of Valencia Spain, spoke on the elements of the presentation to come, entitled “A Celebration of Strings” and dedicated to the memory of local musical luminary and nationally renowned performer, Joanna Moore.
Those individual compositions were: Bartok’s “St Paul’s Suite,” Britten’s “Simple Symphony,” Bartok’s “Romanian Dances,” and Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings.”
Biographical insights on each composer, the circumstances surrounding the writing of each piece, and the dynamics of the music were touched upon in detail.
At one point, describing Britten’s “Simple Symphony,” Mas-Arocas made it plain that the composition was “not so simple,” that in actuality it was “very difficult.” He added, “In the finale things get very frantic with “the bows of the violins flying all around.”
“Some pieces are very exciting and others are very melancholy.”
Describing the rigors of the all-string-instrument concert, Mas Arocas reminded the audience that in a full symphony with brass, woodwinds, percussion, etc., the strings would get moments where they could rest. In “A Celebration of Strings.” the strings will be playing all the time, with no chance to rest. It’s very hard.”
Next, the conductor/music director took questions from the audience, providing additional insight. Among the questions; “What is the difference between a Polish polka and a Romanian polka?”
and “Why are there no horns in the orchestra tonight?” “Is this your first post-pandemic concert? (NO, four concerts in a row in the last four weeks with his other orchestras!). “Where are you from?” (Valencia, Spain, famous for two things, MUSIC and “La Tomatina,” the world’s largest tomato fight. People come from around the world to throw tomatoes at each other and are swimming in tomato juice.)
The final audience comment was made by Dr. Roger Moore, orchestra president. He quipped that he wanted to assure the audience that their new conductor/music director “looks much better without his headgear.” (a black N95 mask matching his tuxedo.)
The Maestro ended his comments by emphasizing the importance of the audience’s energy in the total concert experience for all. “We are so excited to be playing for all of you (in person). Your presence is affecting the performance. Musicians need to interact with the audience. You are giving energy to the performance and performers – the combination of having you there and us here, with the music making the connection. The most important thing to me, is for you to take the music, let your imagination go, and let the music be your own.”
.Then, under Mas-Arocas’ energetic direction. the music began..and the concertgoers eagerly fulfilled the Maestro’s wishes, making the music of the Clinton Symphony Orchestra of the Mohawk Valley “their own.
All photos by Tom Loughlin Jr for Utica Phoenix