On Saturday, March 23, Milligan College hosted the “Spirit and Soul” concert, featuring collaborative performances between the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra, ETSU BucsWorth Men’s Choir, the Appalachian Men’s ensemble and several individual ETSU faculty members.
The program consisted of four diverse symphony pieces from three prominent composers throughout history. First was “Requiem in D Minor” by Luigi Cherubini. This piece was performed by the orchestra in addition to the two choirs’ vocals, and it was conducted by Johnson City Symphony Orchestra’s Director Robert J. Seebacher. The players set the tone for the evening through the dramatic highs and lows of Cherubini’s classic, preparing the audience for the night ahead.
The second piece for the evening, titled “Love was My Lord and King!” by Gwyneth Walker, was conducted by the director of ETSU BucsWorth Men’s Choir, Alan Stevens. This performance allowed the voices of the Men’s Choir to shine through, intermingling well with the low basses of the orchestra while complementing the higher notes from the violins and flutes.
The third piece, and final with vocals, was written by composer Johannes Brahms. This song, titled “Alto Rhapsody,” featured the emotional voice of the director of the ETSU Opera Theatre, Karen Smith.
“I love to actually get to sing with our students,” said Smith. “For me, that is probably the most fulfilling part of performing.”
A second piece by Johannes Brahms, “Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15” closed out the evening with a performance by Esther Park, ETSU’s assistant professor of piano, in addition to the orchestra. Park’s performance was something incredible to witness, and audiences were left amazed by her talent and proficiency.
“It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I did love Esther Park,” said orchestra fan Betty Benson. “It’s hard to pick a favorite when all the parts of the program were so different, but it’s really gratifying to hear the symphony improving every single year. It just gets better and better.”