Mosaic / October 23, 2019

New Music Director Conducts Debut Concert at Orpheum

Conductor Vlad Vizireanu leads the orchestra.

Harpist Jordan Thomas finishes up his solo during a piece by Debussy.

Violin Concertmaster, Carolyn Van De Velde, plays the violin.

Cellists in the orchestra focus on their sheet music.

Music Director Vlad Vizireanu faces the crowd during the standing ovation.

The Knox-Galesburg symphony held their first show of the season under their new music director Vlad Vizireanu.

Beginning with a memorable and unique start, Vizireanu kicked off the season with the first Masterworks Concert named ‘Dance, Dance Revolution’, after the famous arcade game. It featured works by BŽela Bartok, Claude Debussy and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

“I never actually danced in ‘Dance Dance Revolution’, interestingly enough, but it’s a game I remembered as a kid and all of the pieces for this concert are dance themed,” Vizireanu said.

Vizireanu already has many plans for the future, and said that there are five concerts planned for the year. Some of his plans include music competitions for the youth in the area as well as what he called a “blurred lines” series, explaining that it would feature traditionally known classical music combined with some more modern methods of making music. His example included mixing a piece by Sergei Prokofiev with turntables. He says that plans are still open ended and in the works.

Beyond the performance, Vizireanu expressed his admiration for the Knox-Galesburg Symphony. He recounted the great chemistry during all his rehearsals as well as the orchestra’s relationship with the rest of the Galesburg community.

“It’s the kind of orchestra that serves the community really well as opposed to just being like a big monument somewhere,” Vizireanu said.

Lucas Wood, the executive director of the Knox-Galesburg symphony, detailed the unique relationship between the two entities. The orchestra was founded almost 70 years ago and since its foundation, all conductors were members of faculty who both taught at Knox and conducted the orchestra. Vizireanu is the first conductor that is not a member of faculty.

“Our previous conductor was here for 25 years so that hiring process was so different than what we just finished to hire [Vizireanu],” Wood said.

The show also featured esteemed harpist Jordan Thomas, who played during the second piece of the concert. He is one of two harpists for the Knox-Galesburg Orchestra and performed as a soloist for this concert. Thomas played as the audience watched in amazement at his grace.

“I figured this season I’d like to get to know the orchestra since it’s our first season. Instead of getting a soloist from anywhere else, why not just actually work with our orchestra, our people?” Vizireanu said.

Vizireanu and Wood encouraged people to come to the next concert on November 23 at 7:30 p.m, called ‘Winds of Change’. This show will feature the United States premiere of Slovene composer Anže Rozman’s new piece, titled ‘Phoenix,’ which is for flute and orchestra. Rozman now works under Hans Zimmer, known for his grand film scores in award winning movies.

The end of the ‘Dance, Dance, Revolution’ concert was met with a standing ovation by the astounded audience. As the clapping gradually dwindled down, Vizireanu faced the crowd with a smile.

“Did you like it?” he asked, earning a laugh from the audience.

Alicia Olejniczak, Associate Mosaic Editor

Tags:  knox-galesburg symphony music orchestra The Orpheum Theatre

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