Arts and Entertainment | Music

Columbia percussionists, string players team up to take orchestra in new directions

  • Kimberly Flores / Staff Photographer
    STRING THEORY | The program for CU Orchestra’s next performance spans several centuries.
  • Kimberly Flores / Staff Photographer
    STRING THEORY | The program for CU Orchestra’s next performance spans several centuries.

Get ready for Columbia University Orchestra to rock Roone Arledge Auditorium. 

From Brahms’ 19th-century quartet to Pierre Boulez’s concerto arrangement to the more contemporary suite by Ravel, the performance spans several centuries and styles of music. 

“The Ravel piece is very impressionistic and colorful,” flautist Rebecca Baehr, BC ’13, said. “It is different from the Boulez suite ... which is very French. The last work is the Brahms piece—a symphony that the orchestra is playing.” 

Baehr, who is a featured soloist in Boulez’s “Memoriale.” has been practicing the flute for 11 years and is enrolled in Barnard’s lesson exchange program at the Manhattan School of Music. “Memoriale” is “a contemporary piece, unlike any typical concerto you would hear,” Baehr said. 

In addition to “Memoriale,” Arnold Schoenberg’s orchestral arrangement of Brahms’ Piano Quartet in G Minor, Op. 25 adds a new dimension to the piece.

It marks the first time the orchestra has played an arrangement of a piano quartet.

“I’ve never done anything like that,” Emily Ostertag, CC ’13 and principal second violin said. “It was one of my favorite pieces before, and it’s not played that often."

The Brahms piece, which has been adapted by Arnold Schoenberg to be played by an orchestra, has Ostertag excited, since it lends a larger scale to a piece originally written for violin, cello, viola, and piano.

"It’s really cool because it sounds like a chamber music piece, and when you’re playing it you feel like you’re playing chamber music, but at the same time at this like huge scale, and it’s really pretty and symphonic," she said. 

In both Brahms and Ravel’s “Ma mère l’oye, cinq pièces enfantines,” every instrument is integral, and this year it’s the percussion section’s opportunity to shine.

Dana DeFilippo, CC ’13 and Orchestra president, has been playing percussion since the fourth grade, and entered the Juilliard pre-college program in high school. She is most excited about the role that percussion will play in the Brahms and Ravel.

“In the past few years, we’ve only had three percussionists,” DeFilippo said. “This time, we have a pretty great percussion representation. Now we have enough people to cover enough instruments.” 

The concert will take place on April 7 in Roone Arledge Auditorium at 8 p.m. Admission is free. The orchestra will also play a concert in Miller Theatre on April 20, featuring a lecture by Columbia music professor Walter Frisch. 

An earlier version of this article incorrectly quoted Rebecca Baehr's description of the Ravel and Boulez pieces and a quote by Emily Ostertag has been expanded to include a longer description of the Brahms piece, as it previously was used in an incorrect context. Spectator regrets the errors.  |  @ColumbiaSpec


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Rachel posted on

We will be having another concert on the 20th at 8:00 in Miller Theater if anybody is unable to make it this Sunday!