The CSUN Symphony Orchestra, headed by Dr. John Roscigno, made it clear to those who attended their performance last week that their ability to play some of history’s most beautiful music is nothing short of spectacular.
The USU Performing Arts Center housed some of the finest talent on campus Friday night as CSUN’s Symphony Orchestra, regarded as one of the best on the West Coast, played Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov’s “Russian Easter Overture,” Ernest Chausson’s “Poeme,” Sergei Prokofiev’s “Piano Concerto No. 1,” and Johannes Brahms’ “Symphony No. 4.”
The atmosphere was so connected and the orchestra played with such an inherent vivacity while the audience leaned forward and hung on every note.
The show opened with guest conductor Gyung Chun Lee, gracefully leading the ensemble through the introduction of the “Russian Eastern Overture” which steadily gave way to a game of cat and mouse between the cellists and the violinists.
Violinist Yohei Nakamiya played a solo piece titled “Poeme” right afterward. His piece was mellow at times, but not for a minute did the level of passion drain out of his fingertips.
Once Nakamiya finished his piece, he stood humbly before the audience and wiped the beads of nervous sweat from his brow as he received booming applause. It was his playing that livened the crowd and set the tone for the rest of the night.
Another standing ovation went out to Natsuko Piere who played an absolutely breathtaking rendition of Prokofiev’s “Piano Concerto No. 1.” Her fingers moved with an uncanny vigor as she manipulated her piano in a manner similar to Gattaca’s twelve-fingered pianist.
Her fast-paced playing was a simultaneous display of grace and dominance. Had she played one more minute than she did, it’s a good possibility that flames would have shot out from the keys.
Piere insisted after the show that when she plays solos such as this one, she dedicates her performance to “more accent and less speed.”
“[Playing this solo] is very physically difficult,” Piere said. She said that before she plays a piece like this, she has to get “energized” by eating a lot of healthy food beforehand.
Piere is 26 years old, and has been playing since she was four. She said after she graduates from CSUN, she wants to either “go to Germany and study classical music, or attend USC.”
The CSUN Symphony Orchestra’s final performance was of Brahms’ “Symphony No. 4.” It was during this piece that the group really started to look like a collective unit. Every musician’s face held the same intense concentrative expression as they played together, moving in a natural unison controlled by the tempo of the music.
One audience member, Nobuka Tajima, 24, enjoyed the performance very much.
“I was amazed that two Japanese people played tonight,” Tajima said.
The entire performance was truly fantastic. I am by no means a talented musician. Most people consider me to be tone-deaf even, but nonetheless everything felt right to me. No performer noticeably faltered, and the music invoked a new emotion with every segment.
The orchestra was well disciplined and played with great poise, reaffirming us of all the reasons why they are so highly revered in California.