Minnesota Orchestra performs at South

Playing in a high school isn’t so different from Orchestra Hall, Arnstein explained. “The stage is a little smaller . . . and the lights are a little more glary . . . we adjust to the acoustics always.”

Antonia Lowell

Playing in a high school isn’t so different from Orchestra Hall, Arnstein explained. “The stage is a little smaller . . . and the lights are a little more glary . . . we adjust to the acoustics always.”

Antonia Lowell, Staff Writer

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The only sounds in the auditorium this morning were coming from the shwicks of a few camera shutters and the occasional rustling of students readjusting to get a better look at the musicians onstage. This just might be the silentest South auditorium ever – or it would be if it weren’t for the world class orchestra, and “the unleashed fury of a full string section,” to borrow words from viola player Sam Bergman.

“We are very privileged,” said South orchestra teacher Lori Hippen about the concert the Minnesota Orchestra gave to South music students today. Hippen was approached by a friend of hers in the orchestra this fall while they were still on lockdown. The orchestra has been to ten high schools in the metro area over the past year. “We hope to continue this,” said Pam Arnstein, a violin player.

Playing in a high school isn’t so different from Orchestra Hall, Arnstein explained. “The stage is a little smaller . . . and the lights are a little more glary . . . we adjust to the acoustics always.” The main difference according to her is the people in the seats. “The audience is very different at a high school.” She jokes that at larger concerts some people aren’t exactly paying rapt attention. “They’ll come because ‘Oh my wife dragged me along so I guess I’ll go.’” At schools all the students who go are musicians, most of them passionate about their instruments. “The silent audience is just amazing.”

They played a suite called Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky. “Except it’s not, it’s by Maurice Ravel. Kind of,” Bergman explained to the audience before they played. Mussorgsky wrote the suite for piano, which Ravel later adapted for a full orchestra. Bergmann talked about a few of the paintings during the concert, and how music is used not to tell stories, but to make people feel things.

“It was kinda cool that he gave us a lot of background.” Said South musician Mary Dewhirst.

The conductor, Osmo Vänskä is a Finnish conductor, composer, and was the principal clarinet in the Helsinki Philharmonic from 1977 to 1982. He and the Minnesota Orchestra won the grammy this year for Best Orchestral Performance.

There were two South alumni in the orchestra, which made it even more exciting. Michael Sutton and Emilia Mettenbrink graduated in the classes of ‘87 and ‘97, respectively. “It was bizarre,” Sutton said about being back on the Suth stage after almost thirty years. Mettenbrink agreed. “I signed up for classes in here,” she recalled. “The space feels just the same.”

Scott Carter, the South band teacher, said afterwards, “I had goosebumps . . . It’s one of my favorite pieces of music.”

The students were equally excited.  “It was fantastic. It was really interesting to see the director’s movements and how focused the players were,” Hannah Warling mentioned during third hour Strings Orchestra directly after. A lot of students echoed this, sophomore Chase Jalivay included. “I thought it was incredible, and I don’t even listen to classical music.”

 

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