Wittenberg Chamber Orchestra plays tonight

The program includes Debussy and Holst.

For an evening of priceless classical music that’s free, get to the Chamber Orchestra Concert at Wittenberg on Friday. Led by conductor Brandon Jones, 18 string players will bring three composer’s music to life.

Jones, an associate professor of music, and the coordinator of instrumental music for Wiitenberg, said this evening’s performance is in celebration of the 150th birthday of French Impressionist composer Claude Debussy.

“We’ll be playing two of his pieces. ‘Girl With the Flaxen Hair’ is slow and lyrical, and ‘Golliwogg’s Cakewalk,’ which is a twist on American jazz and ragtime. It’s based on a dance that would have taken place on an American plantation,” he said.

The orchestra will also be playing “St. Paul’s Suite” by classical British composer Gustave Holst. “He wrote this because he taught at St. Paul’s Girl’s School in Hammersmith,” said Jones. “The first and last movements are like a jig, lively and jaunty. At the end, he mixes the tunes of ‘Dargason’ with ‘Greensleeves.’ It’s really neat and probably my favorite part of the piece.”

“Choreography: Three Dances for String Orchestra” by Norman Dello Joio will complete the program. Joio was an American composer who won an Emmy Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1957. “This is fast and frenzied in the first and third movements with lots of jagged rhythms,” said Jones. “But the second movement is slow and lyrical, much more like a song.”

Most of the musicians are students, but there is one alumnus who will be playing double bass tonight. “The Chamber Orchestra is student-based, but it’s open to other members of the community,” said Jones. “That’s a great thing about Wittenberg, we allow people other than music majors to participate in ensembles.”

This is the first Chamber Orchestra concert of the season. There will be another in the spring.

Something that a lot of people don’t know is that the music department at Wittenberg has been around since 1907. “We are one of the oldest members of the National Association of Schools of Music,” said Jones.

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