On the evening of April 25 before its performance, The Knox-Galesburg symphony was awarded the Illinois Orchestra of the Year Award for an unprecedented fourth time.
The award was presented by none other than Don Moffitt, the Illinois state senator, who, in his speech, compared the symphony to President Lincoln himself. But the accolades didn’t stop there. The symphony also received a letter of praise from the state house and senate that was read to the excited and congratulatory audience that filled the Orpheum Theater.
“It’s really cool to be recognized for something that you aren’t necessarily trying to achieve,” explained junior Makenzie Goldstein, who has been playing the violin with the symphony since her freshman year. For her, playing in the symphony is all about the music, and the award is an added bonus.
The symphony’s performance did nothing if not live up to the award it received. They played a set of three songs, the most memorable of which was a piano concerto in A minor by Edvard Grieg. The pianist, Lisa Leonard, who was a guest artist, commanded attention from the moment she walked on stage in a glittering gold dress. She returned to the stage three times following her performance, greeted by a never-ending standing ovation. Her piano-playing was nothing short of brilliant, bringing the audience with her to the summits of the delicate high notes and the depths of her all-encompassing low ones. Of course, a concerto is nothing without the symphony to back it, and that’s exactly what the Knox-Galesburg symphony did.
After such a stunning performance, it was especially stunning to find out that the symphony as a whole played the piece together for the first time that same day. Because of a series of unforeseen medical complications, that was the first time the group and Leonard could play together. It exemplifies the skill and professionalism with which the performers play—something that Goldstein has benefited from.
“Being in a more professional environment makes you up your game a lot just because you have only four rehearsals, so you need to go in and know that almost immediately you are going to start getting more artistic and musical critique,” Goldstein said. For somebody like Goldstein, who has been playing for thirteen years and who is attending Knox on a musical scholarship, it’s this type of artistic challenge that is necessary and exciting.
The Knox-Galesburg Symphony puts on a multitude of shows per year, including the annual Concert on the Lawn on the Old Main lawn. This year, the event will be held on June 6. So if you are sticking around this summer, it might be a good time to come out and enjoy some free, award-winning music right here on campus.