On Sunday, the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center hosted the Hays Symphony Orchestra Masterworks Concert University & Smoky Hill Choirs. Presented by the Fort Hays State University Department of Music & Theatre, four soloists and a guest conductor were the main focus of the concert.
As the musicians took their places, the number continued to grow for the number of people on stage, totaling 107 members. Terry Crull introduced various scholarship award winners and finally got the show going by introducing Concert Master Matt Means. Means then introduced the guest conductor, Don Moses. Moses is the Director and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois School of Music.
One of his most outstanding accomplishments was becoming the founding director and Conductor Emeritus of the Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria. This made me excited to hear what he had in store for the audience. “The Creation,” written by Franz Joseph Haydn, was the name of the program.
As the music began, it flowed into the room, giving a wonderful sound one could fall into easily. The first singer, bassist Charles Turley, interrupted the sound with his voice. Giving a sharp contrast to what was previously being heard, it startled the audience. Once the whole choir joined in, though, we returned to the uniform sound. With the entire choir singing, it was if we were riding on the sound waves.
The next soloist to perform was tenor Joseph Perniciaro. His voice went well with the orchestra’s music as it was an easy tone to listen to. One thing that impressed me was the orchestra’s ability to support the soloist while maintaining a good background volume. Another part of the vocalist and instrumentalists that impressed me was their passion.
As they played and sang, they moved back and forth, bobbing their heads with the music. The more violent the music became, the more violent their motions. Entertainment came from the added visual effect. One violist in particular started smiling when he was enjoying the piece he was playing, which, in turn, made me smile and enjoy the music more.
Soprano Ivalah Allen was the next soloist to perform. Very operatic in nature, her voice was at first flowing in a good way. After a while she did continual vibrato that overwhelmed the music. It was hard to listen to, and words were lost. I believe this is just her style, though, as her biography read she has performed in many operas.
My favorite parts of the concert were when the orchestra and choir came together. In these moments, the music became a powerful sound that could grab your soul. The trumpets gave a great, round sound, and a solo flautist played the purest and simplest of notes. After an hour, an intermission was taken.
When the second half of the show started, it was if we had never left. The sounds and voices came back just as if nothing had happened. During this section of the concert, even Moses got into it, waving his arms majestically with the music up and down. Toward the end of the concert, Allen and Turley exited the stage, and Allen and senior Calder Craig returned. Craig brought a fresh sound to the stage, and it was lovely to hear a strong, young voice. Senior Alexandra Hutchison also joined the soloists later for a quintet. After two hours, the time came for the concert to end with nothing spectacular, but the repeated amen. Afterwards the audience gave a standing ovation that lasted so long Moses returned to give a second bow.