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article imageSpringfield Symphony Orchestra completes its 70th season

By James Walker     May 4, 2014 in Music
Springfield - The Springfield Symphony Orchestra completed its 70th season last night and announced that its current director, Kevin Rhodes, has had his contract extended for a further three years.
The group performed an impressive array of pieces from the Rachmaninoff orchestral catalogue, attended by just over 1,800 people, opening in a sonata-form movement which took the audience through several keys from the starting E-major. It intrigued the audience as its first theme remained relatively monotonous. Articulation changed throughout the theme from a smooth, graceful flowing picture to a more jagged, rough one and then finally hesitant, halting tones. The second theme was filled mostly with seventh chords that gave the impression of a distant, dreamy appearance. The full orchestra did not unite until Concertmaster Masako Yanagita had outlined the chord sequence.
The orchestra was joined by the Springfield Symphony Chorus for the highlight of the show - an exuberant performance of Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms with the array of voices fighting against the combined might of the chorus of instruments.
After the break, the orchestra performed Rachmaninoff's Symphony No.3 in A-minor, originally written in 1935-36 and originally performed at its premiere by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra. A very rare piece to be performed by a professional orchestra, it was a real treat for the music lovers in attendance. Full of beautiful melody and chromatic harmony united with an almost cinematic feel across all three movements of the symphony, it was a lovely piece for the group to choose at the climax of their 70th season.
With a glowing concert review by some of the best in the trade, it was an exciting event for the orchestra and none more so than for director Kevin Rhodes who, President John Chandler announced, has agreed to sign a three-year extension to his contract which he has held since 2001 alongside music director of the Traverse Symphony Orchestra, Michigan, and conductor of the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, Boston, since 2010. It was Rhodes' choice to launch the orchestra's 70th season grand finale with American Festival Overture by American composer William Schuman - one of Rhodes' personal favourite composers.
All in all, the performance by the group was very impressive by all accounts and it looks as though the Springfield Symphony Orchestra is not losing anything by turning 70 years old. Work on the season for 2014-2015 has already begun with MassMutual being confirmed as the main sponsor again but now that the group has completed its performance of the entire Rachmaninoff orchestral catalogue will the orchestra take up a new masterpiece to launch itself into its 71st season very soon?
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