The Alma Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Jonathan Spatola-Knoll, opens its 60th season with Dvorak’s joyful, lyrical and celebratory Eighth Symphony alongside Mozart’s timeless “Solemn Vespers,” which will be performed with the Alma College Choirs.
The concert takes place at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27 in the Remick Heritage Center, Presbyterian Hall, at Alma College. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for seniors 62 and up, and free for Alma College staff, students and youth 18 and under. Seating is reserved. Call (989) 463-7304 for ticket information.
Mozart’s “Solemn Vespers,” a sacred choral work written for a religious service, is most famous for its fifth movement, which features “a beautiful, serene” soprano solo, says Spatola-Knoll, music director and conductor. Victoria Walker joins the orchestra and choir as featured soloist.
“Another highlight of this piece is the movement that reminds me of the dark and ominous foreboding of Mozart’s Requiem,” he says. “But unlike the Requiem, the larger work has a happy ending and all ends well.”
Walker has performed extensively in the United States and Europe in opera, oratorio and art song. She has appeared as a soloist with the Montreal Symphony as well as the Lansing, Jackson, Saginaw, Battle Creek, Keweenaw and Michigan State University symphony orchestras. She has taught voice at Alma College for 16 years.
Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 in G Major draws inspiration from Bohemian folk music and portrays an intimate and personal emphasis that differs from the more typical romantic symphonies that are grand, profound and dark.
“The Eighth Symphony has a unique quality that ranges from melancholy to optimism,” says Spatola-Knoll. “It remains a popular, beloved work for audiences around the world.”
This year’s orchestra features several new and talented first-year Alma College students, “some new faces that we are glad to have with us,” says Spatola-Knoll. The approximately 80-member orchestra includes a mix of professional musicians from the mid-Michigan area and Alma College student-performers.