Alma Symphony Orchestra Performs World Premiere

ALMA – In their February concert, the Alma College Symphony Orchestra will perform the world premiere of Ishmael by William Cooper along with other pieces influenced by different popular musical styles. The concert also features the winners of the Alma College Concerto/Aria Competition.

Dr. Jonathan Spatola-Knoll, director of the Alma Symphony Orchestra Dr. Jonathan Spatola-Knoll, director of the Alma Symphony OrchestraThe performance takes place Sunday, Feb. 2 at 3 p.m. in Remick Heritage Center, Presbyterian Hall. Ticket prices 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. For ticket information, call (989) 463-7304.

Jonathan Spatola-Knoll, director of the Alma Symphony Orchestra, asked Cooper to write Ishmael for the orchestra.

“One of the great advantages of doing this is that the piece can be really well tailored to our specific orchestra,” says Spatola-Knoll.

Cooper’s piece tells the Old Testament story of Ishmael through the restatement of melodic fragments and extreme emotional contrasts. Spatola-Knoll describes the piece as theatrical and compares the techniques used by John Williams in the score for Star Wars.

“It’s always exciting to present the first-ever performance of a new piece,” says Spatola-Knoll.

The Alma Symphony Orchestra is comprised of approximately 60 musicians. The group is primarily Alma College students who perform with professional musicians, including Alma College faculty, from the area.

Alma Symphony Orchestra In the fall, students competed in front of faculty for the opportunity to perform with the orchestra as soloist. The three winners include Jake Holt, vibraphone; Andrew Wiegand, voice; and Anna Dobyns, marimba.

“We had an exceptionally strong pool of student talent participate in this year’s competition,” says Spatola-Knoll. “This is a wonderful opportunity for student musicians to perform a big solo like this with the orchestra — even many professional musicians only get to do this rarely!”

Story published on January 27, 2020