The Lane Community College Chamber Orchestra, directed by Hisao Watanabe, performed pieces by Arthur Honegger and Ludwig Van Beethoven Sunday, Feb. 8 at the Center for Performing Arts in the band room below Ragozzino Performance Hall. The 21 members listed on the program roster included three scholarship winners; Keiko Ota on first violin, James Valenzuela on horn, and Zach Marshall on timpani.
David Straka, cello instructor at Lane and member of the orchestra, took his seat and other orchestra members followed suit. The audience applauded as Watanabe entered and took his place on the raised platform in front of the orchestra.
Watanabe asked the audience to feel the air green and blue as he gave introduction to French composer Arthur Honegger’s Pastorale D’ete. Composed in 1920 and inspired by the Swiss alps, Watanabe explained that Pastorale D’ete translates roughly into “Summer Meadow.”
Pastorale D’ete paints a scene of a meadow coming to life. The grasses grow, the flowers bloom, the animals come out of their hiding places and everything is abustle. As Watanabe waved his baton, the music ebbed and flowed and the audience experienced Pastorale D’ete, feeling the air green and blue.
Before moving back in time to 1808 for Beethoven’s 6th symphony, Watanabe recognized several members of the Orchestra: James Valenzuela will be attending Portland State next year. Keiko Ota, from Japan, will be a graduate student at the University of Oregon next year. Anna Scott and Eleanor Montagna are new members. The orchestra is made up of students, staff, alumni and community members.
From his platform, Watanabe shared some interesting facts: Beethoven suffered from intestinal pain and illness. He wrote symphony No. 6 almost simultaneously with No. 5 and his hair was disheveled and often depicted that way. Ready to begin Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, Watanabe said “Let’s walk together.” And we did.
The first movement, Allegro Ma Non Troppo, had some of the audience closing their eyes as they listened. Preparing for the second movement, Watanabe told the audience the title for this movement translates to “Little Stream.” He said he likes streams and has seen many because he is not just a director of the orchestra, but also a fisherman.
Watanabe referred to Beethoven’s piece as a drama and expressed how pleased he was with the performance that day. Straka has been a member of the Lane Chamber Orchestra for a couple of years and said that the performers played beautifully, were of one mind and the ensemble stayed together.
Lane has a small orchestra capable of bringing to life the stories that the composers have written down for them to play. The meadow of Honegger came to life. Beethoven’s 6th Symphony carried the audience away on the ups and downs of life. The orchestra is made up of individuals that play as one when they play.
For more information about upcoming performances and to buy tickets to Lane Performing arts events, visit lanecc.edu/tickets.