BY Alyssa Crow
The Los Angeles Philharmonic performed a free concert at East Los Angeles College on Saturday evening to a packed auditorium. The symphony was conducted by Jonathon Heyward, who played “Ruslan and Lyudmila Overture” by Russian composer Mikhail Glinka. Heyward approached the podium to applause, lifted his arms and the orchestra followed suit by lifting their instruments. His arms came down and the first notes sprang into life. Heyward signaled the drums and the audience listen with a seamless ease. The piece began to form a classic sound, like listening to a pastoral painting. The music was well balanced and blended together with great cues from Heyward. The violin runs were clean and crisp-sounding. The brass carried the melody well with their booming sounds, the woodwinds played well with the strings, but the strings were the clear star of this piece. The second piece was “Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy” by Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The piece began with the woodwinds evoking the forlorn and sorrowful sounds of a dirge. The waves of sound ebbed and flowed between each section, playing together and separately. Heyward used his body to convey the desired emotion from each section of the orchestra. The orchestra created suspense with a feeling of drama and danger. The woodwinds had a strong embouchure and were able to keep their lengthy notes sounding clear and full without shakes. The brass played very little during this piece, mostly concentrating on the strings and winds, showcasing varying talent and skills. The lack of brass however made the movement less layered and oftentimes boring. No strong image or emotion was evoked. The piece was technically satisfying but boring to behold. The finale had the symphony playing several long notes together. It was not really a closure of the piece, but more of a wrap-up. The musicians stood for their applause and posed for photos. The final movement was the abridged version of “The Firebird Suite,” by Igor Stravinsky. Stravinsky shortened the ballet piece down from a 60-minute movement to the version performed that night. Heyward took it upon himself to explain this distinction and to narrate the story of the ballet. The “Firebird Suite” began with the low rumble of the contrabasses which emanated the eerie feel of a dark forest with very low and tight notes. The clarinet had a strong and clear role, its sound permeated the concert hall while working in unison with the basses. The swirling tension and complexity of the voices blending together created the perfect atmosphere for the symphony to convey the grand, sweeping emotions of the ballet. “Firebird Suite” contained a lot of strong solos that painted the story of the ballet. At the end, the LA Philharmonic received a standing ovation from the audience.