Symphony connects with crowd

Principal violinist Gina Atteberry plays at the Feb. 27 concert.

Tracey Graves

Principal violinist Gina Atteberry plays at the Feb. 27 concert.

Amye Buckley

Telling the story of love with words and notes, the Missouri Southern Symphony Orchestra held its “Music in Love … with Poetry” concert Feb. 27 in the Taylor Performing Arts Center.

English professors Dr. Joy Dworkin and Dr. Art Saltzman read poetry between the classical pieces. After intermission, the Joplin High School Orchestra performed, with Terry Dolanc as the orchestra director.

“I thought it went quite well,” Dolanc said. “I was very pleased with performances of both groups.”

Dolanc tried to balance the high school selections by including a slow folk tune and then the strong rhythmic drive of the second piece. He said the music and poetry flowed well together.

Vivian León, director of Missouri Southern International Piano Competition, agreed with Dolanc.

“I think what I enjoy the most is the diversity,” León said. “Every piece was very different but it was lovely.”

Dworkin, who personally selected the poetry readings, she said she really loved the way the Bulgarian poem “Transformations” combined with the Dvorak piece.

Saltzman said he found the combination of poetry and music “rich and evocative.”

“I found it to be quite exciting,” said Amber Duncan, junior English major. “My favorite was definitely the ‘Butterfly Lovers.'” Duncan enjoyed the solo parts for violin, harp and flute. “I found it to be a very beautiful piece of music.” Duncan said.

Dr. Kexi Liu arranged the theme from the “Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto” to fit the Southern orchestra. “Butterfly Lovers,” composed in 1959 by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang, was one of the first Chinese compositions meant to be played exclusively on western instruments.

Young students also turned out to hear the concert. Taryn Parker, is still in elementary school, but she knows her music. Her favorite was the “Butterfly Lovers” theme. “It had the dynamics and really stood out as strong.” Parker said.

“I think they made a very smart choice to bring it back,” said Carrie Ralston of the return of the orchestra concerts to Southern. She came out to support her husband, Andrew Ralston, principal cellist.

This concert was the fifth since the orchestra was reinstated in the fall of 2005.

“I always like Strauss, always,” said Catherine Hilgendorf. As a Joplin resident, Hilgendorf comes regularly to the orchestra performances.

She also enjoyed the light quality of the “Butterfly Lovers” theme.

“It was just delightful,” Hilgendorf said. “It was so delicate, the butterfly.”