Orchestra hopes to keep classical music’s star burning at Shryock

Fans of classical music won’t have to leave Carbondale to see other worlds Tuesday as the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra performs Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” at Shryock Auditorium.

The orchestra will combine with the SIU Edwardsville Symphony Orchestra to meet the demands of the large piece. They will also be joined by Carbondale native and current Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra concertmaster David Kim.

The show will also include pieces by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Camille Saint-Saën. For Saint-Saën’s piece, Kim will serve as soloist, playing third Violin Concerto.

The performance is the last of the season.

Edward Benyas, the SISO conductor and professor of oboe at SIU, said this is the first time the two orchestras have played together, and the arrangement presented huge challenges. For one, the ensembles will only have two or three rehearsals together before the actual performance.

The “Planets” portion of the performance will be conducted by Edwardsville conductor Michael Mishra.

Principal percussionist Jim Beers said this poses an interesting challenge in that two different conductors may have very different ideas on how a piece should be performed, and they won’t get Mishra’s input until their first rehearsal the day before the show.

Associate conductor and principal second violin Michael Wheatley said the performance fits in well with the overall theme of the season: dreams and fantasies.

“You could hardly do better than outer space,” he said.

The main performance will be preceded by a Klassics for Kids concert, which Benyas said helps expose people to classical music at a young age. He said overall attendance has been quite good this season, though appreciation for classical music could always be better.

Flautist Izabel Zambrzycki, a senior from Antioch studying flute performance, said classical music doesn’t hold the same place in culture that it did at one time.

“You don’t see Beethoven on someone’s iPod,” she said.

However, despite its drop in popularity, the musical genre has the potential to affect people in a special way, and hopefully if people give it more time, it can rise in popularity, she said.

“I’ve never been moved by a pop song, but I have been by a Mahler symphony,” she said.

Beers, a master’s student in percussion performance from Chester, said he was not exposed to classical music until he started studying it in school, and it’s the lack of exposure that can explain classical music’s drop in prominence.

However, he said it’s up to students to try to reinvigorate interest, and they could use new media such as Facebook to get the word out about the classics.

Wheatley said he doesn’t really buy the idea that classical music is on its way out. If one takes a broader view, they’ll see that there are more orchestras in the world now than there have ever been, he said.

Though it may be in a periodic decline, he’s not worried about it, he said.

“It’s not going anywhere,” he said.


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