Orpheus: A fresh perspective

Rachel Rubino

Contributing writer Rachel Rubino ‘17, a frequent listener of the rock and indie genres, ventured into new and unfamiliar territory when she went to see the performance of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra this past Tuesday. Here is her first-hand experience:

Photo Courtesy of abudhabifestival.ae

NobuyukiTsujii_courtesyof

The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s most recent performance this past Tuesday featured 2009 Van Cliburn gold medalist pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii. As a frequent listener of rock and indie genres, I don’t have much experience with classical music. While packed, the audience was predominantly from an older generation. The several gratifying smiles I received made me feel I was sticking out like a sore thumb, a dignitary of my generation.

The orchestra opened with Beethoven’s Overture to Coriolan, Op.62. In the delicate moments leading up to the first note played by the ensemble, I felt a heavy anticipation in the resounding silence of the crowd. After the orchestra began to play, I was immediately enraptured by their magical presence.

The range of emotion expressed by each musician, collaborating with one another to continuously layer each sound, was mesmerizing. With the baseline offering a steady backdrop, the string players especially stood out to me. The violin players’ graceful and passionate movements moved me deeply. Ardently cradling their wooden instruments, the performance was not simply living sound, but an elegant and pointed dance. Numerous such players set the stage aflame with vitality and profound emotion. I had only had a taste of what the show had to offer little did I realize.

After the orchestra performed a symphony by Mozart, Tsujii was guided onto stage. Blind from birth, the Japanese pianist honed his superb musical skills entirely by ear. This reality made his triumph on stage all the more moving. Joined by the orchestra, he played the concerto “Emperor” by Beethoven.

Within this piece, I noticed a more dramatic baseline. Although there were periods my untrained ear got lost to the formality of the performance, I was quickly engaged again by the transcending sounds of fleeting passion and impending doom. The most memorable part of Tsujii’s performance was the desperate manner with which he would pound the keys of the piano. He conveyed a sense of profound desire to share the emotion of his musical and professional journey with the audience. Such moments made his overall performance supremely triumphant.

Coming from a musical background consisting of the latest radio beats, Top 40, and overplayed dance hits, it can be difficult for the average college student to see the value in a classical performance; however, as a non-traditionalist, I can verify that this performance was unforgettable and completely worthy of our generation’s time and attention.