Javelins, Cannons, and Glory

Symphony of Southeast Texas (SOST)

In 1953, the Beaumont Symphony Society founded SOST, which was formerly known as the Beaumont Symphony Orchestra. Their goal was to promote an appreciation for symphonic music, as well as give students an opportunity to witness a live orchestra, furthering music education in the region.  Currently, Maestro Chelsea Tipton II is the conductor of SOST, which consists of around seventy auditioned and paid members.  Many of the members are faculty from Lamar University, and some students also perform with the symphony on scholarships.  To learn more about the history of SOST, upcoming performances, or musicians involved in the symphony, you can visit their website here.

 

The Performance

On April 7th, 2018 the Lamar University Choir, Interfaith Chorus, and a few select Lamar University Brass instrumentalists joined with SOST to perform.

The pieces performed included Poulenc’s “Gloria“, 1812 Overture, and Javelin. 

Gloria by Poulenc 

This atonal piece was one of the most personally challenging choral works I have ever performed.  In basic music theory, you learn there are rules for composition and voice leading – Poulenc disregarded all of them. However, his rebellion against set rules brought about a beautifully mysterious rendition of Gloria.  I along with my colleagues spent many hours in practice rooms brainstorming methods to find entrance pitches and trying to find enharmonic keys to follow in a piece that seemed to follow no key. Rene Vasquez, my studio mate, and Jammieca Mott, my vocal professor both performed stunning solos within this work.

Javelin by Torke

Honestly, I wasn’t even aware this instrumental piece was being performed until our first full rehearsal. This piece was written for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s 50th Anniversary, and featured in the 1966 Olympics.  One thing I found interesting about the piece is that although it is 591 measures long, it only lasts for nine minutes making it quite the quick paced work, much like a javelin.

1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky

When I was first handed the score for this piece, I thought I’d never heard it before.  However, upon learning the choral parts and finally hearing the orchestra, I soon realized this piece was very familiar.  If you know of this piece, you know that there are cues for cannons written in the score- usually omitted by most performers for obvious reasons.  Thanks to technology, Maestro Tipton gave our audience the full experience- cannons and all.  This piece was written with both an orchestra and brass, and at the time this was written the “rules” stated those instrument groups were for two separate concerts.  What did Tchaikovsky do? He stuck the brass out in the audience, of course! So, to complete the authentic performance of the historical 1812 Overture, Maestro Tipton also positioned the Lamar Brass members in the audience.  This piece was definitely a “grand finale”, as indicated by an audience whose applause and cheers seemed endless.

 

 

 

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