Symphony of the Mountains Performs Fantasia in E&H Partnership

Jacob Lawson, News Writer •


On October 30, the Symphony of the Mountains brought Disney to Emory & Henry College with its “Fantasia” concert. The performances included collaboration between the Symphony of the Mountains and the Rebel Voices Chorus and Chamber Choir and Patrick Henry High School Wind Ensemble, as well as Director for the McGlothlin Center for the Arts and Associate Professor of Piano and Music Lisa Withers and Director of Choral and Vocal Studies Allyss Haecker. The Symphony of the Mountains’ “Fantasia” combined music and clips from the films Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.

At the start of this year, Emory & Henry College engaged in a formal partnership with Symphony of the Mountains. Withers explained how this came about. “The Symphony of the Mountains rented our facility last year for a concert. At that time the conductor, Cornelia Laemmle-Orth, President Jake Schrum, and I decided we should talk about a formal partnership that would benefit both the college and the symphony. As a result of this new partnership, there will be more concerts with Emory & Henry College and Symphony of the Mountains.”

Withers said the next Symphony of the Mountains concert will be on Friday, January 26, 2018.

“[It] will feature a program of Classical Masterpieces including a full Beethoven Symphony and a clarinet concerto with a guest artist clarinetist. This concert will be called ‘Enchantments,” Withers said.

During the concert, there was also a promotion for “The Big Read.” Withers said that, “The Big Read” is a National Endowment for the Arts campaign to support libraries and reading in all regions of our country. The Symphony decided to partner with the Washington County Public Library to promote this year’s book, “The Wizard of Earthsea” by Ursula K. LeGuin, by putting together a concert that emphasized imagination and fantasy which are core themes in the book.”

On October 30, both Haecker and Withers performed with Symphony of the Mountains. Haecker sang “Ave Maria” and Withers played piano on the song “Rhapsody in Blue.”

“I always enjoy performing with the Symphony of the Mountains. This was my third performance with the ensemble. They are professional, musical, and kind. Cornelia is a lovely conductor who allows for a beautiful relationship between the musicians and the audience,” said Haecker on the performance.

In regards to how Symphony of the Mountains allowed the Rebel Voices choir to perform with them, Haecker was enthusiastic. “I absolutely love that the SOTM invited local high schools to perform with the orchestra. What a tremendous opportunity!”

On her performance, Withers said, “It was a wonderful experience to get to work with the orchestra on a Beautiful piece like Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for Piano and Orchestra. The musicians were so professional and we able to to create a wonderful performance on only one rehearsal together. Opportunities for pianists to play with orchestras don’t come very frequently, so I feel very lucky and grateful to have been a featured part of this concert!”

Student reactions to “Fantasia” were mostly positive. Sophomore Jonathan Griffin said, “It was a beautiful combination of arts. It was fun to imagine what scenes from the movie each piece would be accompanying. I think my favorite part of the evening was listening to Dr. Lisa Withers soloing on piano for Rhapsody in Blue and Dr. Allyss Haecker singing Ave Maria.”

Senior Crystal Babb said, “It was really good overall. The inclusion of the high school band and the high school choir was really interesting. It was a good experience for them to work with a professional orchestra. Babb did have one issue with the show saying, “I would have liked to have seen more clips from Fantasia. While they did the actual songs, there wasn’t a lot of clips which was what I was anticipating, at least that’s what the ad kind of suggested.

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