By Jasmine Maharisi, Editor-in-Chief
UNO’s Chamber Orchestra may very well be the university’s best-kept secret. During its concert on Feb. 22 in the Strauss Performing Arts Center Recital Hall, that secret was revealed to more than 40 members in the audience who witnessed the small ensemble’s extraordinary talent.
Professor Barry Ford conducted the performance and was joined later by flutist and UNO Music Professor Christine Beard. The orchestra is one of two at UNO and includes students and members of the community.
The UNO Orchestra performs a wide range of great music from the Baroque period to the 20th century. During Tuesday’s performance the audience was transported to 19th and 20th century France with the works of Gabriel Fauré, François Devienne and Claude Debussy.
The concert began with Fauré’s “Pavane,” a smooth, contemporary work that takes its rhythm from the Spanish court dance of the same name. The work is mesmerizing in a delicate and soft way, which attributes the orchestra communicated brilliantly.
The second piece in the program was Devienne’s “Concerto No. 7 for Flute & Orchestra in E Minor” and was the first piece in which Beard performed. During the beginning, the music was dramatic and powerful, a wave of intensity that seemed almost too strong for the fluttering of a dainty flute.
Not so. When the music broke and Beard lifted the flute to her lips, her notes rose and flowed until they reached a height that not only matched the rest of the orchestra but enhanced it.
“It’s a wonderful experience to be able to play a concerto with an orchestra, as the colors that composers can create using an orchestra are limitless,” Beard said. “One can play the same piece with a piano accompaniment but it almost always is not as interesting, and plus you don’t experience the same energy as you do when you have 30 or more musicians on stage making music together.”
Although the performance marked only the third time Beard has played with the orchestra since she came to UNO in 2002, her expertise was immediately obvious. Such experience comes after playing the flute for nearly 27 years.
Last on the program was Debussy’s “Petite Suite,” a light work that conjured images of ballet dancers in tutus and pink satin shoes. Though this part of the performance wasn’t as powerful as Devienne (a piece Beard picked out especially for the concert), its soft musicality rendered a satisfying finish. When the music reached its final notes, the crowd broke into thunderous applause.
“Playing concerts is the highlight of what we do,” said senior violin performance and music composition major Danny Sabra. “It’s the fruition of all the work we put into it, all the hours practicing in practice rooms and the hours of rehearsals.”
For Sabra, the highlight of his performances and his college career is appreciating the beauty of the music and sharing it onstage.
“The wonderful thing about music is that it is a universal language that spans all cultures, religions, ethnicities, ideologies,” he said. “It’s something that every human being can understand in a real tangible way. You don’t have to understand music theory and counterpoint to be able to enjoy this,” he said. “There’s no special thing required. Any person can sit down and be moved by the magnificence of an orchestra playing, and it’s kind of exciting to be able to share that with people.”
The UNO Chamber Orchestra will perform again, in collaboration with the UNO Jazz Ensemble, on March 17 at 7 p.m. in the Strauss Performing Arts Center Recital. For more information, visit unomaha.edu/music/ensembles/chamberorch.php.