Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra to hold Fall Concert on Friday
Caroline Collins | Friday, November 19, 2021
The Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra will take the stage Friday night to perform its annual Fall Concert. The concert — which will be held from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m in the Leighton Concert Hall — will include highlights such as Mendelssohn’s Concerto, selections from Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances, Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony and a solo performed by concert mistress and co-president Abigail Fontana.
This is the Symphony Orchestra’s 91st year as a group, as the group has been on campus since 1930 and continues to grow each year, said Daniel Stowe, conductor of the Symphony Orchestra. Stowe said there are 85 students in the orchestra, with 60 string players and 25 percussion and brass players. The orchestra’s original home was Washington Hall before moving to the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center in 2004.
Friday’s concert will be the Symphony Orchestra’s second concert this year, following its first performance in October — which was originally slated for 2020 but was postponed. Because of the first performance, the orchestra had less time to rehearse for the Fall Concert. Despite the condensed timeframe, Stowe said the orchestra is more prepared than usual and should put on a professional-quality performance.
Stowe said a lot of time and effort is put into the concert preparation.
“We have one weekly Tuesday night rehearsal, and then leading up to the concert we’ll add an extra rehearsal on Thursday prior to the Friday concert as a dress rehearsal,” Stowe said.
On top of the Tuesday night rehearsals, the orchestra rehearses and works in smaller groups and as sections, Fontana said over email.
“In addition to our weekly rehearsal schedule, we conduct regular sectional rehearsals to prepare each section of the orchestra to perform as a unit,” Fontana said. “Outside of these meetings, we work with our professors and lesson instructors as well.”
The musicians also practice on their own outside of large group rehearsals. Vice president Ian Johnston said all of the orchestra members practice individually to make sure they are as prepared as possible for Friday’s concert.
Following a hiatus induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, Stowe said the orchestra is excited to be performing in front of live audiences again.
“They always amp up the energy for a concert, the electricity of a concert environment is always so exciting,” Stowe said.
Johnston said he is looking forward to performing with the whole orchestra again in front of what is expected to be a sizable crowd in the performing arts center. First-year Kateri Castillo also said she is excited to play in a full orchestra again and hear some of the other musicians, including Fontana.
“I am most excited for Abby’s solo,” Castillo said. ”She will be playing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and it is such a pleasure to hear her play.”
Fontana won the Concerto Competition last year, but her solo was deferred to this year due to COVID-19. Fontana said she has been practicing extensively ahead of the concert.
“I practice individually for several hours each day to prepare my orchestral and solo repertoire,” Fontana said. “Each performance with the entire orchestra is always an extraordinary experience. In a special way, this performance is meaningful as I will be soloing on the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto.”
She said she expects the crowd to witness a great show at a great venue.
“Classical music is entertaining, energetic, and uplifting,“ Fontana said. “Experiencing an entire orchestra working together live on stage is something that can’t be replicated elsewhere, and we are fortunate to have such a dedicated group of students and a beautiful, world-class venue here on Notre Dame’s campus. I am confident that everyone who attends, whether this is their first or hundredth time viewing a symphony live in person, will have an extraordinary evening.”