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SEK Symphony prepares ‘Four Seasons’ concert

Many areas around Pittsburg State’s campus have become unwitting concert venues for virtual concerts. Now, the lobby of McCray Hall has become another such stage. 

The SEK Symphony at Pittsburg State will host a virtual concert featuring composer Antonio Vivaldi’s most famous piece, “The Four Seasons.” The concert is pre-recorded and will be available for viewing at 7 p.m. on Monday, Apr. 19 on pittstate.tv. The piece is a series of violin concertos that will feature freshman Lillian Monroe, seniors Edith Sigler and Bryan Amor, and Raul Munguia, director of orchestras and professor of violin, performing the solo parts to each of the four movements. 

“For me, any piece we program is a masterpiece,” Munguia said. “The composer created the work of art and left a piece that will be performed more years but there are pieces that prove to be outstanding. The Four Seasons is one of those pieces that every orchestra in the world should program it. For our audience, family, and friends of the orchestra, it’s an opportunity to listen and watch what PSU’s Chamber Orchestra is capable of when taking (on) a colossal work like this… This is our take on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons…” 

Participating musicians recorded the performance of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” in the lobby of McCray Hall, the home of the department of music. 

“McCray lobby has the ability to replicate what an Italian baroque church may sound like: beautiful depth and resonance of about two to three seconds delay,” Munguia said. “The size, which helps greatly, and also for more personal reasons, I have performed there a couple of times and I always had the goal of stamping our mark in history. These students will have something to go back to decades after they leave us and will have a fond memory of their time through these hallways.” 

Under normal conditions, the PSU Chamber Orchestra might have their concert in the recital hall or the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts but due to COVID-19 restrictions, no live audiences are allowed to attend their performances this year. Munguia said that these restrictions provided the “perfect opportunity” to do a concert like this inside of McCray Hall. 

“The idea of programming a set of pieces like this has been in my mind for a while but (I) never got the chance to do it since as a symphony conductor, I always think of larger pieces that involve all three instrument families,” Munguia said. “Oddly enough, the fact that COVID-19 forced us to suspend bringing audiences to live performances as well as limiting the amount of students involved at any given time… made me think small as the Seasons only uses strings and harpsichord.” 

During rehearsals and the recording, all participants followed COVID-19 safety protocols including mask wearing and social distancing where possible. Munguia also said that the soloists were chosen not just by their musical ability but also by their abilities as people. 

“These pieces are for orchestra and a soloist which the level of engagement by the orchestra goes beyond a simple accompaniment,” Munguia said. “The orchestra is heavily demanded to perform at the same level as the soloist. As a violin professor, I know my students very well and decided to assign each piece not only based in their technical abilities but in their character as well.” 

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