Oct 21 2014 | by Emmie Harmon
Courtesy of The Daily Mississippian
For 42 years, Professor Ronald Vernon has been conductor of the Lafayette-Oxford-University Symphony Orchestra, and this is his final year. The first of his final four performances of this year was the fall concert at the Ford Center last night.
Because this is Professor Ronald Vernon’s last year, this year’s fall concert was very special, and, to make it even more notable, the orchestra added instruments to embellish the performance.
“We have nice additions to this concert. We have a harpist and a harpsichord,” said Clinton Gentry, a junior majoring in chemistry and violinist in the orchestra.
The LOU Symphony Orchestra has been practicing and preparing for this fall concert since the beginning of the semester. Because it is the 300th anniversary of Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach’s birth, the orchestra began the concert with a symphony written by this man of great musical talent. Bach was a musician and composer in the 1800s and the fifth son of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach. Vernon said Mozart was heavily influenced by C. P. E. Bach and said Mozart once referred to him as “the father of us all.”
Following was four suite movements from a production of the play, “Pelléas et Mélisande,” that was composed by Gabriel Faure. Following intermission, there were Two Elegiac Melodies written by the Norwegian composer, Edvard Greig. With the closing of the program, the orchestra performed a piece by the Russian composer, Pytor Tchaikovsky.
“The main reason I come is because my wife plays; she’s one of the volunteers for the symphony,” McLaurin said.
Ellen Shelton, McLaurin’s wife, has been a part of the orchestra for more than 20 years now, since her time at the university.
“When she came here in grad school, she was recruited into the orchestra by Dr. Vernon,” McLaurin said. “He’s still going to be around town, but it’s sad to see him leave the symphony.”
The orchestra is planning three more performances throughout the year, including their spring concert on April 25. Every other year, the university’s opera and the LOU Symphony Orchestra collaborate, and this year’s spring event will include both musical groups.
“We will be working with the Opera Theater in a World Premiere production of an Opera by an Ole Miss graduate, who has a very good career in Vienna, Nancy Van de Vate,” Vernon said. “She has composed an opera based on Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet.’”
From fall to spring, the LOU symphony orchestra will work their hardest to make Vernon’s last year on campus one of the best years yet.
“I think it is really special because it will be Professor Vernon’s last fall concert,” said Travis Dirle, graduate student and cello player in the orchestra.
The orchestra includes the community, faculty and students. It is largely student-based, but the students are not all music majors.
“They all love music, nevertheless, and I think that’s really special because there are many universities where the focus is professional training,” Vernon said. “Certainly, we do a very good job of preparing our music students for a career in in the profession of music, but many of the things the department of music offers are open to everybody, anybody who is able regardless of their major.”