The Brandeis-Wellesley Orchestra celebrated its 20th anniversary with performances at both Wellesley and Brandeis on Nov. 18 and 20. In accordance with this important milestone, the orchestra performed pieces with historical significance as well as incorporated new and innovative dynamics into their concert.
The orchestra performed two pieces during the concert, Beethoven Symphony No. 9 and Fanfare on Amazing Grace. Beethoven Symphony No. 9 was a 65-minute piece that, while a challenging piece to learn for the orchestra, proved to pay off.
“Beethoven’s 9th was groundbreaking in many ways – it called for the largest orchestra of its day, and was more than twice as long as any previous symphony. Add to that a large chorus and four soloists, something never done in a symphony before, and you have something that is monumental even by today’s standards!”, noted Neal Hampton, director of the Brandeis-Wellesley Orchestra. The piece is characterized by powerful expression and demonstrates Beethoven’s ideas of liberty and universal brotherhood, as shown by the text he chose to base the piece off, Friedrich Schiller’s poem, “Ode to Joy”.
Preluding the symphony was the Fanfare on Amazing Grace. “What better way to complement a piece that calls humanity to its highest ideals than with a work based on the hymn, ‘Amazing Grace?’” emphasized Hampton. The Fanfare, composed by Adolphus Hailstork, set the stage for an emotionally resonant and powerful concert.
The performance of the orchestra was a reflection of the dedication of its members. “The orchestra rehearsed once a week starting in September,” shared Hampton. “The three choruses [Brandeis, Wellesley, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute] we invited, rehearsed separately. We all met together for the first time on the Tuesday before the concert. The choruses had been so well prepared by their directors, so they sounded great in short order.”
Operating as an orchestra between the two schools brought forth unique dynamics. Hampton said, “The collaboration provides a musical experience neither school could offer on their own.” Moreover, it provided an invaluable opportunity for cross-campus interactions, fostering new connections and friendships. Bessie Li ’27 said, “I’ve had the opportunity to meet people I never would’ve if I hadn’t joined the orchestra. After the concert at Wellesley, I was excited to go to Brandeis and share our work with another community.”
“The orchestra and chorus loved performing the ninth, and the standing ovations by the sold-out audiences at both concerts showed how much they enjoyed the performances,” concluded Hampton. “Performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is the kind of experience that stays with you for the rest of your life.”
The Brandeis-Wellesley Orchestra’s 20th-anniversary concert was a celebration of unity, collaboration and the transformative power of music. The concert stood as a testament of the Orchestra’s ability to unite two colleges through the universal language of music.