Special Saturday performance from the Oakland Symphony Orchestra


Sam Summers

The Oakland Symphony Orchestra performs in the Varner Recital Hall on Saturday, Nov. 2.

On Saturday, Nov. 2, the Oakland Symphony Orchestra presented a special performance for its audience in Varner Recital Hall.

Oakland Symphony Orchestra, tracing a tradition of excellence to 1976, continues to provide people with exceptional performances of the finest symphonic repertoire, according to the website of the orchestra. The concert presented on Saturday night was the second in a series of four subscription concerts performed each academic year by the orchestra.

Dr. Gregory Cunningham is the director of the Oakland Symphony Orchestra. He mentioned that this particular performance was somewhat different.

“[It] provides a slightly more substantial, technical and musical challenge to the membership of the ensemble with regard to repertoire than usual,” Cunningham said.

The program for the evening included featuring “Le Carnaval Romain,” “Op. 9 of Hector Berlioz,” “Rainbow Body” by Christopher Theofanidis and “Symphony No. 10 in E minor” from Dmitri Shostakovich.

After every performance, Cunningham always listens to the music to make reflections and improvements on them. Like most artistic endeavors, he said reflection and assessment are the key aspects in improvement of an orchestra.

“Following each performance, I — as music director — listen to each performance following the passage of at least a couple of months,” he said. “This distance provides a more objective stance from which I can make observations about our performance. While the repertoire changes for each concert, the overarching concepts within each piece share similarities with all music that allow us to build upon each experience.”

As a director of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, Dr. Amy Tully described the distinctiveness of the orchestra from other orchestras and how they represent the school of music, theatre and dance.

“The OSO represents and serves both the academic mission of the university and the community at large, which makes OU a natural fit for their residency,” Tully said. “The School of Music, Theatre and Dance prides itself on successfully preparing students for performing arts careers. In a way, our students get the opportunity to train as apprentices with some of the most talented orchestra musicians in the metro Detroit area.”

The part Cunningham looked forward to the most in this performance was the “10th symphony” by Dmitri Shostakovich, as the orchestra has extended their work to solo passages for flute, oboe, English horn, clarinet, bassoon and piccolo.

“The 10th symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich is a particularly formidable musical undertaking,” Cunningham said. “I must look forward to allowing our patrons the opportunity to hear the virtuosity of the entire orchestra, but also the brilliant artistry of our principal woodwind players.”

Membership of this orchestra is reserved for OU music majors who are chosen through an annual, competitive audition. This membership, most of the times, includes faculty of the music department at OU and regional professional musicians from throughout Michigan and Ohio.

The orchestra presents four concerts each year. The next performance will be presented at 8 p.m. on Feb. 16 in Varner recital hall, featuring winners of the OU concerto competition. Students can learn more about the orchestra’s performances by visiting the Oakland Symphony Orchestra website.