On the evening of March 29, Brock Recital Hall hosted the Samford Orchestra for a night of classical music.
A part of the Patty McDonald Orchestra Series, the musicians were led by Brian Viliunas, the orchestra’s conductor.
Viliunas started off the night with a brief introduction, speaking about how “we live in an age of declining attention spans,” and how this poses a problem to the world of classical music, noting how the Beethoven piece they would play that evening is one of the longest in the symphonic repertoire.
But the problems caused by the age of the instantaneous are not confined within the walls of recital halls alone. The attention span shortage, Viliunas argued, leads to cancel culture, as people spend less time trying to understand the motives and intentions of others.
With this in mind, he addressed how the orchestra would be playing Russian music that evening, a tense subject given the current war in Ukraine. But Viliunas went on to explain how “despots and tyrants have been using art” for their own ends “for generations,” and encouraged people to differentiate art from propaganda by asking, “Are they doing art or are they serving other ends?”
It would be hard to misunderstand the orchestra’s playing of Russian music as a show of support, however, as a Ukrainian flag was hung along the left aisle, and guests were encouraged to wear blue and yellow in support of the country.
The first piece played was Festive Overture, Op. 96 by Dmitri Shostakovich. After the orchestra concluded, Donny Snyder, a senior cello performance major, immensely gifted musician, and winner of the Concerto-Aria Competition, was brought out to great applause. Snyder played his cello with skill and energy as a centerpiece of the orchestra’s next piece, Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1, Op. 107, earning a standing ovation from the audience once it was over.
The orchestra concluded with the aforementioned Beethoven piece Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55, which also ended in a standing ovation from the crowd.