Sewanee Symphony Orchestra and the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera take on Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25

Sewanee Symphony Orchestra performs in Guerry Auditorium. Photo by Matt Hembree (C’20).

By Lucy Rudman
Junior Editor

The Sewanee Symphony Orchestra (SSO) performed, for the first time ever, alongside the professional musicians of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera (CSO) on Friday, February 9. A true blend of musicians, the concert was conducted by both Kayoko Dan, of CSO, and of Sewanee’s own César Leal.

The four-piece set included “Toreador March” from Carmen, composed by Georges Bizet, conducted by Leal; “Capriccio Espagnol, (Kaprichichio no ispanskiye temï), op. 34” composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, conducted by Leal; “Carmen Fantasy,” op. 25 by Pablo de Sarasate, conducted by Dan; and “Polovtsian Dances” from Prince Igor, composed by Alexander Borodin, conducted by Dan.

The title piece, “Carmen Fantasy, OP. 25,” featured a set of excellent violin solos from visiting assistant professor Peter Povey. Other soloists throughout the set included Molly Morgan (C’22) on harp; Erin Elliot (C’20) on cello; Taylor Mottern (C’17) on french horn; plus many more from from the SSO and the CSO.

This blending of professional and amateur was especially impactful on Morgan (C’22), who is Sewanee’s only harpist, but who got to perform with CSO harpist Caroline Brown Hudson.

“I’m usually the only one, and, while sometimes that’s cool, you lose the learning and betterment that comes from there being multiple people in your section,” Morgan said. “It was great because we were able to discuss the difficult sections of the music and compare our ways of playing, which I don’t usually get to do.”

This theme of both camaraderie among musicians and of learning was reflected in comments by other SSO members as well.

“I feel like I learned a lot from [the CSO musicians] just in rehearsal,” Bahley Minor (C’22) said, “I really hope we have the opportunity to play with them again.”

Overall, the concert was an immense success, with a notable improvement from SSO’s fall performance. The chance for Sewanee musicians to play alongside Chattanooga’s was an invaluable experience, reflected Dr. Stephen Miller, who is both a Professor of Music and a viola chair in the orchestra.

“This was historic. It was the first time two orchestras had gotten on stage like this. It was our first time sitting up there with professionals,” Miller said.

And as for the immense success, both in performance and attendance? He is not surprised.

“Music brings people together.”