This Saturday, the Bowdoin Chamber Orchestra (BCO) will perform the entirety of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 6,” in Studzinski Recital Hall at 3 p.m. Three chamber ensemble groups will also be playing this Friday during Common Hour in the same location.

Also known as the “Pastoral Symphony” for its depiction of nature, Beethoven’s symphony will be a landmark spring concert performance for BCO. The entire piece runs about 45 minutes long, and it will be the first full symphony the orchestra has played  in many years.

“[The performance] is possible because the orchestral program is growing,” said Beckwith Artist-in-Residence George Lopez, who conducts BCO. “There is a lot more enthusiasm and more interest from the students to have the orchestra do more. I want to challenge the orchestra to do full works.”

“I’m excited to show other people what we’ve been working on and to expose them to this experience,” said horn player Garrett English ’16. “There are so many subtleties, it’s amazing. It’s just like taking a walk through the countryside. I hope the audience is listening closely and appreciating it.”

English has several solos during the performance, which are awarded to the first chairs of each instrumental section.

“It’s a lot of pressure, but its also really wonderful because in an orchestra this small the parts are a little bit more exposed,” said English. 

BCO will also perform a piece by Charles Gounod, most famous for his grand opera “Faust.” This piece will be performed by 12 members from the wind ensemble.

Many students who participate in the full orchestra also perform in smaller chamber ensemble groups, three of which are performing on Friday. Chamber ensembles usually consist of three to 12 musicians. The pieces played by the chamber groups are usually shorter than the pieces played by the full orchestra. Lopez, A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Music Mary Hunter, and oboe instructor Kathleen McNerney each conduct one of the performing ensembles.

“It’s a very social kind of music designed to be performed in small spaces, maybe someone’s living room or a church, or a salon room in a mansion,” said Lopez. “It’s often written to be played by friends for friends.”

Similar to the symphony, many pieces being performed by the chamber ensembles are designed to evoke strong emotional reactions from the audience. One piece by Dmitri Shostakovich was written during World War II, and is meant to reflect the war’s devastation.

Roya Moussapour ’17, a violinist, is performing today and Saturday. Though she said she is excited to perform the symphony, she has a special affinity for chamber ensemble performances.
“I’m almost more excited about Friday because there are more groups performing, and there will be a wider range of music,” said Moussapour. “Even if it is all classical, the pieces are very different.”

In addition to Shostakovich, the chamber groups will be playing works by Johannes Brahms and Maurice Ravel. Chamber ensemble groups play one Common Hour each semester, but this semester’s Common Hour lands on the same weekend as the spring concert, a coincidence, according to Lopez.

This weekend’s performances fall on a busy weekend for the College, as prospective students and their families are visiting campus. Because of this, performers anticipate larger audiences than usual.

“It is nice that [the performances] are falling on this weekend to give some focus and some spotlight to the music department,” said Lopez.

“I’m excited to show off our hard work to the prospective students,” said Ella Driscoll ’17, a double bass player in the orchestra. 

Each year, the performances draw crowds from both the student body and the Brunswick community.

“There’s a very substantial turnout every year, especially for the orchestra concert. There are a lot of Bowdoin students in these ensembles, so their roommates, teammates and classmates come out and support them,” said Lopez.

“We get a lot of Brunswick community members from retirement homes,” said English. “I’d say community members young and old make up the largest portion of our audience.”