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The Southeast Kansas Symphony Orchestra plays a concert on Sunday, April 28 at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts presenting Morning Heroes. The orchestra is under the direction of Dr. Raul Munguia. Logan Wiley

Symphony and choirs commemorate WWI

The Southeast Kansas (SEK) Symphony Orchestra performed their final performance of the semester this past weekend. The performance featured a commemoration of World War I. 

Sunday, April 28 featured the SEK Symphony Orchestra’s performance “Morning Heroes,” which marked their finale for the spring 2019 semester. The performance began at 7:30 p.m. and ran an hour long with no intermission, which was different compared to past performances. 

“Oh my goodness, (it was) so powerful, so touching, so intimate at the same time and so big,” said RaúMunga, SEK Symphony director. “Yeah, that is what the piece is all about. I think the second and the fourth movements, which are the loud ones—one is preparing for the battle and the other is being in the battle—so those are the two ones (that are my favorite) because it involves so many percussion and the brass players and a full choir.” 

The performance featured a collaboration with the University Choir and professor of music composition John Ross as narrator for the evening. “Morning Heroes” was composed in five movements by Sir Arthur Bliss in honor of those who died in World War I. 

“This is actually my fourth year doing the oratorio concert, so I kind of know how these things go,” said Callie Rice, senior in biology. “And having a piece that (has) no intermission, so having a whole solid piece that you’re standing there for an hour length, it’s really difficult—my knees hurt—but also it’s very awesome. And especially with the type of piece it was I thought it was really interesting, we had a narrator as well as the choir and the orchestra. So I think all together it was really awesome.” 

The five movements of “Morning Heroes” were “Hector’s Farewell to Andromache,” “The City Arming,” “Vigil,” “Achilles goes to Battle and The Heroes,” and “Now, Trumpeter, for they Close, Spring Offensive, and Dawn of the Somme. 

“Kudos to the choir and Dr. Marchant for preparing them,” Munguía said. “It’s an easy job for me because once I start conducting, they sing. It’s very easy for me because they are so well prepared, so I don’t have to say much, but … they’re ready, that’s the great thing about it.” 

Tonya Sprenkle attended the performance to watch and support her grandson, Colton, who plays oboe in the orchestra. She said that the orchestra is a “great” opportunity for her grandson. 

“It was very nice, we enjoyed it very much,” Tanya said. “I always like it when they mix the orchestra and the choir together, I think that makes it for an interesting combination… This is our third concert in the last week. We were here last Sunday for the Wind Ensemble, and then we were here Wednesday night for the Jazz Ensemble group, and now we’re here tonight.” 

Mungia said that this season has been especially good for the SEK Symphony Orchestra, due to the variance in their performances. 

“(They have done) amazing. I tell them that in seven years this particular season has been the best,” Munguía said. “We played the Planets back in October, we did a full holiday concert, we did a rock and roll concert, we did chamber music at McCray, and then finishing with this piece, it’s just amazing. I’m telling them that they’re getting at the point that they can be considered professionals, so it’s great.” 

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