NIU Philharmonic combines English and Russian melodies

By Chris Plumery

DeKALB – “From Russia to London” was the theme of NIU’s Philharmonic performance 8 p.m. Wednesday inside Boutell Memorial Concert Hall. 

The Philharmonic Orchestra was conducted by Benjamin Firer, an assistant professor at NIU. The show began with a handshake between Firer and concertmaster Chantel Davis.

Davis was excellent as lead violinist, and she had many short solos that transitioned into the next phase of the songs. 

To describe the show in one word, it would have to be chaotic. Every song played felt like multiple songs combined into one. They all evoked different emotions, rapidly flipping from one to the next.

It was as if they traveled across different genres that expressed certain emotions, like romance, but still maintained the type of sound that they were aiming for. 

The music from this concert was remarkable. The violins were the most entertaining to see firsthand. The technique and the balance maintained by the violinists was incredible to watch, and the orchestra seemed to feed off of the violinists.

“Russian Easter Overture, Op. 36” by Rimsky Korsakov sounded angelic and then switched to a tense and stressful tone, combining two different extremes in one song. It was similar to silent storytelling and how emotions and tempo are portrayed without using words. 

These songs were adventurous; it was almost as if the song was alive and was telling a story to the audience. The audience after almost every song clapped and cheered for so long it felt as if the show had just ended. 

The orchestra then transitioned to the London portion of the show. 

This style was reminiscent of ballroom dancing. It screamed classical music, which sounded different but just as nice. Both the Russian and London music were different types of sound, but they both had one thing in common: they evoked different emotions and it was a rollercoaster for anyone listening. 

The performance was beautiful. The way they played together in unison helped emphasize the sound they were trying to express. The sounds, the movements of the orchestra and the conductor were in sync. It really tapped into something spiritual to see all of those elements working together perfectly. It was a masterpiece.