A classical Japanese piece made its debut Saturday night at a concert that was so full people were sitting in the aisles.
The University Symphony Orchestra played the North American debut of Japanese composer Hiroshi Hoshina’s “Mnemosyne: souvenirs d’annee en annee” at its spring concert April 8 in the Music Building Recital Hall.
The symphony orchestra is a group of approximately 70 musicians who audition for their positions and play multiple shows throughout the academic year, and is comprised of both students and community members.
Though “Mnemosyne” is very popular in Japan, it never made it to North America until now, conductor Yutaka Kono said.
Kono did not realize “Mnemosyne” had never been played in North America before he chose it last year, he said.
Sophomore violinist Meg Shields said debuting “Mnemosyne” was an uplifting experience.
“It is a beautiful piece that has the ability to touch a person’s soul,” Shields said. “I felt humbled being one of the first players to bring this incredible music to this end of the world.”
“Mnemosyne” only made up a portion of the show.
Kono’s selections also featured “Pines of the Appian Way,” which is a section of Italian composer Ottorino Respighi’s symphonic poem “Pines of Rome” and John Williams’s widely known “Star Wars Suite.”
The “Star Wars Suite,” which is comprised of five themes from the original movie, is a piece Kono has wanted to conduct for a while, he said.
First-year percussionist Will Wuttke said it was amazing seeing the audience’s reaction to “Star Wars,” but that there was a burden to get it right.
“You could look out in the audience at any face as it started, and their eyes just lit up,” Wuttke said.
In addition to the three ensemble pieces, the winners of the Annual Concerto Competition performed solos with the orchestra.
Senior cellist Cleo Flemming performed “Allegro Appassionato” by Camille Saint-Saens.
It was the type of shorter, high energy, technical concerto that could often be used as an encore piece, Flemming said.
Senior bassist Carlin Rizzo performed “Concerto for Bass and Orchestra” by Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf.
“Both pieces were well chosen and showcased the deep tones that are the characteristic elements of [Flemming and Rizzo’s] instruments,” Shields said.
Rizzo said having a solo in the song was something he has wanted for a while, and that it’s ended his senior year on a high note.