By Adam Harris
It’s a new semester and that means a new season for the nationally recognized Baylor Symphony Orchestra.
Maestro Stephen Heyde, director of orchestral activities and conductor-in-residence, will direct the Baylor Symphony in its first performance of the season at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Jones Concert Hall, located inside of the Glennis McCrary Music Building.
The concert, which is free and open to the public, will feature a piece by Richard Strauss called “Ein Heldenleben,” translated, “A Hero’s Life.” The piece features six sections and takes the listener through the life of the hero.
“This is somewhat of a megalomaniac piece,” Heyde said. “One of the great themes of the Romantic period is the artist as the hero.”
Heyde said this idea of self ahead of others led Strauss to compose the work in the same key as Beethoven’s “Eroica.”
Strauss wrote the piece in an attempt to show that he was as heroic as Beethoven, Heyde said.
“He was eventually dissuaded from that opinion, but what he made was a monumental piece,” Heyde said.
Waco senior Adrienne Steeley has played cello in the symphony all four of her years at Baylor. Heyde said that all of the members of the symphony must audition again for the next season of the symphony.
The ensemble gets together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for about an hour and a half to rehearse for the performance, Steeley said.
“A lot of hard work goes into the performance outside of practice as well,” Steeley said. She said she expects the concert to showcase the talent of the group through an exciting piece.
Along with soloists playing throughout the symphony, there is a prominent and extremely difficult off-stage trumpet part, Heyde said.
“In each one of these areas, we have individuals who are very strong, and they’re doing an outstanding job,” Heyde said.
This year, the symphony plays a virtuosic orchestra piece, something that isn’t seen in many university symphony programs.
Daytona Beach, Fla., graduate student Andrew Merideth has been in the symphony since he arrived at Baylor a year ago.
“When I was deciding to go to grad school and thinking about Baylor, a lot of people were wondering why I wanted to go to such a small school,” Merideth said. “Now, a year later, we’re a nationally recognized program.”
Merideth, who plays French horn, said his instrument had an interesting role in the composition. Along with playing with the brass, Merideth said the horn accompanies the strings as well and is highlighted by eight different players.
The Strauss piece, which is approximately 50 minutes in length, will be accompanied by a piece from 20th century composer, Tan Dun. The piece, titled “Internet Symphony Eroica,” is related to the Strauss piece because Beethoven’s “Eroica” also inspired it.
This five-minute piece is driven heavily by its percussion. Heyde said the composition quotes themes found in Beethoven’s work and is fused with other themes.
The symphony has been invited to play at the national convention for the College Orchestra Directors Association and was also invited to the Texas Music Educators Association convention this year. Heyde said these invitations led him to selecting the two compositions for the concert.
“To play these shows, I really wanted something that would highlight the orchestra,” Heyde said. “With the Strauss and the Tan Dun piece, we’re able to play two pieces that have a link through Beethoven.”