By Brielle Bryan
As the sky darkened on Wednesday, Nov. 4, the number of students walking across campus grew scarce. All was quiet outside as students, family members and friends entered a packed Mayo Concert Hall for the TCNJ Orchestra performance.
With the lights dimmed, conductor Harold Levin walked on stage and the student performers rose from their seats.
Levin took the hand of his head violinist, junior music performance major Thérèse DeGenova, and kissed it as he welcomed the crowd to introduce the first piece of the night, “The March and Procession of Bacchus” by French composer Leo Delibes, from the ballet, “Sylvia.”
“I saw that we had nine weeks of rehearsals, I knew the level of the orchestra, and what was appropriate to prepare,” Levin said on picking pieces for the orchestra to perform.
“The March and Procession of Bacchus” proved to be appropriate as the orchestra, following the lead of the conductor, moved together and seamlessly played all of the dynamics, becoming soft at certain parts and growing in sound at others.
As the first piece came to an end, the string instrumentalists stayed in their seats and the rest of the band left.
The next part of this performance featured several of the section’s members: DeGenova and junior music performance major Caitlin Beym on violin, sophomore biology major Holly Torsilieri on cello and senior music education major Kenneth Hamilton on bass.
This part of the concert was performed solely by the strings section, which played the “Concerto Grosso in D minor, Opus 3 #11,” by Antonio Vivialdi. This section was done in three parts and gave the students an opportunity to showcase their talents.
Cellist Tanya Townsend, a junior chemistry major at the College, said that she is a fan of the pieces composed by Vivaldi.
“I joined the orchestra as a freshman and it’s just been a really great experience,” Townsend said. “It’s nice to have on the side, a reprieve for all my stress during the week.”
As the strings finished their wonderful rendition of Vivaldi’s “Concerto Grosso in D minor,” the rest of the band filed back into the concert hall to play, “Academic Festival Overture, Opus 80” by Johannes Brahms.
Throughout the whole performance, each band member played a key role in keeping all of the pieces together. With only nine rehearsals and two and a half hours a week of meeting with the conductor, the band was able to put on a phenomenal show.
“Last year it was considerably smaller, but this is honestly the biggest the orchestra has been in a while,” said viola player Steve Mejias, a junior music education major at the College.
Levin added that while the orchestra has around 65 players in it right now, a traditional orchestra normally has 100 musicians, with the strings making up the majority of the group.
“We had a huge number of freshman string players that came, and they just kind of showed up and they all contacted me about an audition,” Levin said. “The numbers are nice right now and they’re moving in the right direction.”
Levin also said that there are not a lot of music majors in the orchestra. This gives more students the opportunity to be a part of the band at the College, and keep up with their instrumental skills even though it is of outside their majors.
As well as students playing in the College’s orchestra, there are also community players who are adults. This gives even more people the opportunity to do what they love.
The students put on a great performance, and their passion for playing rubbed off on the audience as they received a loud applause at the end of their performance.
Levin was certainly proud of what the orchestra had accomplished.
“They put a lot work into it and had a lot of rehearsals and time, and they were ready to perform,” he said.