Symphony Orchestra draws community to concert

Students and faculty collaborated to perform pieces from the Romantic period.


Haven Luper-Jasso // THE CHIMES

Students and faculty collaborated to perform pieces from the Romantic period.

Brittany Ung, News Editor

Biola’s Symphony Orchestra tuned up on Saturday night at Crowell’s Lansing Recital Hall to perform works from composers Giuseppe Verdi, Dmitri Shostakovich and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovski. 

The concert opened with a swelling rendition of Verdi’s I Vespri Siciliani Overture. Then, the symphony’s conductor, associate professor of music history and cello Marlin Owen, introduced the next piece—Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony in C Minor, Op. 110a. 

The orchestra journeyed through the piece’s five movements, which were written as a score for the 1960s film, “Five Days, Five Nights.” The film follows the story of a group of Russian soldiers who are sent to find the lost art that was stolen by the Nazis. According to Owen, the piece was written in only three days, with Shostakovich dedicating the work to victims of fascism. 

“As an artist, you draw a picture. As a poet, you write words. If you’re a composer, you write a piece like this,” Owen said. 

The concert closed with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74, also known as “Pathetique.” The work was Tchaikovsky’s last work to premiere before his death in 1893, and Owen dedicated the orchestra’s performance to both his mother and the son of one of his colleagues. 

Alumnus and private music teacher Cole Fencl said the program of romantic and 20th-century music was a good fit for Biola’s orchestra. 

“[Mr. Owen is] a very passionate and in that sense romantic teacher,” he said. “And that being part of his personality displays in the orchestra. He does a good job with inspiring those that care to play just like he is.”


Junior cinema and media arts major Andy Brewster has been the symphony’s concertmaster, or lead violinist for the last two semesters. As concertmaster, Brewster is responsible for leading the entrances and cues, coordinating the emotions of the piece with the conductor and the rest of the orchestra.

“Everyone was really emotionally in tune with each other, really in sync,” Brewster said. “That’s a really special feeling when everyone’s on the same page emotionally and listening and reacting together. That’s really special in a live concert.”

Brewster’s family traveled out from North Carolina to watch him perform. Brewster’s father, David Brewster, said he started teaching Andy piano as a toddler. 

“I used to sit and play with him,” the 43-year-old software engineer recalled. “When he was like four, I expected him to be good at it. But I never expected this, this is special.”

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