Published: Thu Feb 10, 2011You've probably heard the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony at some point in your life. During WWII, it was used in Great Britain to inspire victory (the "dot-dot-dot-dash" rhythm was V for victory in Morse code). In the 1970s, Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band made a disco arrangement of it called "A fifth of Beethoven." Looney Toons has used it, and the list goes on.
In what Dan Allcott calls a "major performance milestone" for the University Orchestra at Tennessee Tech University, the all-student group will perform Beethoven's notorious work in concert on Thursday, Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m.
"A major work like this shows how far the string area in the music department has come in the past few years," said Allcott. "It is considered a major piece of the orchestral literature, and requires precision, flexibility and stamina.
"We've grown this orchestra to the point where we are ready for this," he added. "The University Orchestra is akin to a baseball team. To make a run at a championship, the recruiting and retention of players has to be just right. This is the time for us to do this. It's a great group of students."
In addition to the many music majors in the orchestra there are many non-majors in the orchestra who play for the love of music.
Beethoven lived from 1770-1827, a time of serious cultural change in Europe. He saw the hope and then ravages of Napoleanic revolutions. He lived at a time when a musician's status in society went from that of servant-hood to cultural hero. Much lauded in his own-time, he created the stereotype of the long-haired slightly demonic composer.
"He was a rock star in his time," said Allcott. "Statues were erected in his honor, women swooned, and he was a bit of a bad-boy."
Part of Beethoven's reputation was due to his tempestuous behavior and to misunderstanding of his increasing communication problems as he lost more and more of his hearing.
The program will also feature the Tennessee premier of James Barry's "Snapshot" for orchestra. Barry composes music drawn from a unique amalgam of high and low art. Early influences include playing in and writing songs for metal and punk bands followed by rigorous academic compositional training.
The end product is an immediate, intelligent, colorful, original, dramatic brand of contemporary music. Barry was born in Newport, RI, and grew up in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. From 2004-2010, he produced contemporary music concerts across New York City as artistic/managing director of the Forecast Music. An educator for several years, Barry was an adjunct composition faculty member at the University of Florida and an assistant instructor at Florida State University.
The concert is free and open to the public.