Six Hope College musicians were featured at the Hope College Symphony Orchestra’s 45th Annual Concerto-Aria Concert on Saturday, Feb. 18. The concert was held in the concert hall of the Jack H. Miller building and was also live-streamed online. Soloists included Madalyn Navis (’17) on violin, Stanna Dorn (’17) on piccolo, Hilary Hunsberger (’17) on soprano saxaphone, Mark Cunningham (’17) on piano, Sarah Krisch (’18) and Macauley Weiland on voice (’18).
Conductor Christopher H. Fashun explained to audiences why he finds the particular concert to be a “rewarding process” for both students and professors, saying, “It gives our students an opportunity to perform with the orchestra.”
Student soloists worked hard to achieve this. “The audition process involves a memorized performance of the concerto you are auditioning with for a panel of judges,” Dorn said. “It is done with piano accompaniment. Students typically start learning their concerto well in advance to the auditions. The auditions are held towards the end of the fall semester. I started work on my concerto at the end of the spring semester last year for the auditions in the fall.”
Dorn, who performed “Concerto for Piccolo and Chamber Orchestra” by Bruce Broughton, described that professors work closely with students to help them pick their pieces. “I asked Dr. Southard, my flute professor, what he thought, and his response was ‘I have one you should do!’” Dorn said. “We decided that I should audition on the second movement of the concerto I performed because it showcases the lyrical, expressive capabilities of the piccolo.”
Professors also helped the student soloists prepare their pieces as well. “Sarah and I practiced together weekly with our instructor Linda Dykstra and our accompanist Janice Faber,” vocalist Wieland said. She and Krisch performed “Soul le dome épais”, which is also known as “The Flower Duet”, by Leo Delibes. “Julia Randal came in to teach us French at one point,” Wieland said. “Once we knew we had the show, it was a lot of fine-tuning.”
This preparation took hours of practice for each student. “The biggest obstacle, in my opinion, is the memorization,” Dorn said. “I look for patterns in the music and try to stitch them together through a story in order to create a road map inside my head for the memorized performance, and that definitely takes time.”
Also, soloists had to push through nerves during their live performance. “My legs shook the whole time,” Wieland said. “I was convinced the whole audience could see them moving despite the long skirt.”
However, she explained that despite the anxiety, the experience was one she would remember: “I was thinking and feeling a million things but really it was mostly incredible. Performing with an orchestra feels like crowd surfing – you just float on top while the people with instruments behind you bear your weight. What an honor it is to perform as a team with so many fantastic musicians.”
Dorn also expressed how Hope’s music department has impacted her as a musician and student. “Hope’s music department has provided me with a great deal of opportunities to perform as a soloist, for which I am extremely grateful,” she said. “What I love about Hope College and the music department we have here is that I have been to pursue my love of music while simultaneously pursuing a chemistry degree, and that is possible because Hope College is a liberal arts college and the music department is so supportive.”
To find out more about Hope’s Music Department and upcoming performances by faculty and students, visit www.hope.edu/academics/music. There are concerts every week.