By Jennifer Smith | Reporter
The Waco Symphony Orchestra will be performing at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in Waco Hall. Baylor professors, Jeffrey Powers and Brent Phillips, will accompany the orchestra and give solo performances. The orchestra is opening for the 2017 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Gold Medalist Yekwon Sunwoo, who will perform Brahms’ Concerto No. 2.
Powers is a professor in the Baylor University School of Music, and he is a skilled horn player. He has toured and taught horn all over the world, from Hong Kong to Belgium.
“I’ve spent my life making music, playing what I consider to be the great repertoire, which is the symphony orchestra repertoire,” Powers said. “It has a special attraction for me. It’s an art form that demands participation, not just from the performers, but also from the audience in order to get the most out of it.”
Powers repetitively talked about how fun this concertino is to play. He said it’s exhilarating to get up in front of the orchestra and have that type of sound behind him, supporting him. The excitement drives him. However, Powers said he does still get nervous.
“Performing this piece with the orchestra is more exposure, but I’m performing with my colleague Brent Phillips, so that helps,” Powers said. “It’s not as nerve racking cause we’re in it together, but I still get nervous depending on the demands of the piece. If you learn to channel your nerves it can energize the performance.”
Phillips said him and Powers teach alongside each other every day and play in the Baylor Brass together. He said he is honored to play with Powers.
“I have been playing next to Jeff Powers for fourteen years now. I have profound respect for him as a player and as a person,” Phillips said. “He has literally performed in the worlds greatest orchestras for many years and chose to make his home right here in Waco.”
Phillips is the associate professor of trombone at Baylor and has impressive experience as the assistant principal trombone of “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band for nine years in Washington D.C.
“The trombone has been called ‘the instrument of the Gods,’ the true head of the family of wind instruments,” Phillips said. “It has all the serious and powerful tones of sublime musical poetry, from religious calm and imposing accents, to savage outburst of damnation.”
The concertino Powers and Phillips will be performing is a work taken from Michael Haydn, a renowned composer, and the younger brother of Franz Joseph Haydn, or “The Great Haydn.”
Powers said this piece is unique because there are not many concertinos written for the trombone and horn to be played together. Powers will be playing horn while Phillips will plays the trombone.
“It’s an equally special and fun piece. It shows off what the trombone and horn can do. I think people will really enjoy it,” Powers said.
Philips said the piece lets the listener travel back in time and relive the beauty of a different culture.
“This concerto has a certain nuance and regal quality that transcends culture,” Phillips said. “It takes you back to a time of simple beauty and performance that is based in form and structure and function.”
The WSO is Waco’s one professional orchestra in town, and Powers said they put in quality practice in order to perform professional sounding concerts. He said Texas is unusual in the sense that small towns are able to have practicing professional orchestras. Waco is one of those lucky towns.
In the second act, Sunwoo will be performing BRAHMS, Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 83 in Bb major in the second half. Sunwoo is 28 years old and he won the Van Cliburn three months ago in Fort Worth, Texas. He is set to rehearse with Powers, Phillips and the WSO for the first time on Wednesday.
Tickets for this performance range from $20 to $50, and you can buy them here.