Student Symphony

Williams Student Symphony

The Williams College Department of Music present the Student Symphony directed by Brian Simalchik ’10 and Noah Fields ’11 on Saturday, May 15, at 8 p.m. in Chapin Hall on the Williams College campus. This free event is open to the public and does not require tickets.

Even if the listener has never sat down to specifically listen to this great symphonic tone poem by the Russian composer Alexander Borodin, In the Steppes of Central Asia will most probably seem at least familiar. In the past 130 years, the piece has seeped into popular culture and its themes are oft quoted and paraphrased, often to evoke romantic ideals of the orient: mystery, sensuality and exoticism.

Anton Arensky, a contemporary of Borodin and protégé of Tchaikovsky and Rimski-Korsakov has not penetrated the musical psyche of orchestral music, nor is he as well known as his colleagues. Nonetheless, Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky is a piece worthy of the great company it keeps. With this taste of Arensky, listeners may be inspired to explore some of the other works of this lesser known master.

Also on the program is Erik Satie Three Gymnopedies arranged by Claude Debussy and Brian Simalchik. Originally a piece for piano, this atmospheric work highlights a strain of French thought, which contrasts to what was going on farther east with Borodin and Arensky.

The concert is rounded off with the ever popular Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 by Johann Sebastian Bach, one of his great works of instrumental music.

The Williams College Student Symphony is a 50-member orchestra conducted and administered by students, Brian Simalchik ’10 and Noah Fields ’11 with sponsorship by the Department of Music. The Student Symphony performs two times per year.

Past repertoire has included traditional orchestral works such as Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Suite, Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite, Brahms’s Tragic Overture, and Smetana’s Moldau. The orchestra has also performed 20th-century American music by Ives, Copland, and Barber. In addition, award-winning composer Donald Erb visited the Symphony to supervise a rehearsal of Treasure in the Snow, a work of his which was then presented in a spring concert. The Symphony also performs works by student composers, including Celestial Episode by Judd Greenstein ’01 and Gesture I by Andrea Mazzariello ’00.