It often seems that popular aspects of our culture will last forever: ripped jeans, Ugg boots, Lady Gaga. But in truth, only a few cultural aspects are long lasting. Among those aspects, classical music must be included.

University Symphony Orchestra

Tonight at 8 p.m.
Hill Auditorium

Tonight at Hill Auditorium, the Michigan community will have an opportunity to enjoy a timeless experience first-hand, as the University Symphony Orchestra presents its first concert of the new year. The highly acclaimed group is in the top echelon of student orchestras in the country and consists of individuals who hope to play, teach or compose music professionally. As a selective, audition-based group composed mainly of music majors, the orchestra has won many national awards and performed at Carnegie Hall.

At tonight’s upcoming concert, the main piece that will be played is “Symphony No. 4,” written during WWI by the Danish composer Carl Nielsen. Kenneth Kiesler, director of University orchestras and professor of conducting explained how this piece, named the “Inextinguishable Symphony,” expresses a message of “inextinguishable” desire to surmount any challenges. The song is melodious and optimistic, featuring a tympani battle and ending on a victorious and triumphant note.

The orchestra will also perform Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2,” accompanied on the piano by MT&D graduate Siyuan Li, the winner of the annual School of Music, Theatre & Dance concerto competition. Kiesler mentioned that this popular piece is popular and a classic for symphony orchestras to perform.

Kiesler said he chose eminent works that have stood the test of time for the performance. For the group’s next concert, in February, the orchestra will be performing new works developed by University composers. Therefore, for the concert tonight, Kiesler wanted the students in the group and the audience to experience world-renowned pieces.

“We do a variety of music during the year. We do old music and new music, music from different countries and by different composers, (including) standards like Beethoven and Tchaikovsky and Shubert,” Kiesler said. “We’ll also do music by Gershwin or Bernstein, and in this case we are doing Russian Romantic music from the Romantic era. We are doing pieces that are technically demanding but also very beautiful for the audience to hear.”

One of the most essential elements of a performance is for the music to connect the audience and the musicians, enabling the audience to transcend popular music and revel in the classics.

“The music doesn’t exist only for itself, it communicates something,” Kiesler said. “After all, it is the greatest creation of the human spirit.”

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