BYU Philharmonic Set to Wow Audiences with ‘Symphonic Potpourri 1’ and ‘Symphonic Potpourri 2’

Faculty guest soloists headline performances of new works and orchestral favorites

Preparing for one orchestral performance during a pandemic is no simple task. Preparing for two performances with two different programs — a week apart, no less — is nothing short of inspiring.

The BYU Philharmonic orchestra will present “Symphonic Potpourri I” on February 17, and “Symphonic Potpourri 2” on February 25. Both concerts are under the expert baton of professor Eric Hansen, who is conducting the ensemble while conductor Kory Katseanes is on sabbatical.

“For these two concerts I wanted to present an engaging assortment of shorter orchestral masterpieces, purposefully taking the audience on a journey through a variety of styles, sound textures and emotions,” Hansen said. “We go from delicate beauty to uplifting grandeur, from the searing pangs of loss or regret to the joyous fulfilment of resolution, rescue and triumph.”

Both concerts will feature special guest soloists and faculty members from the School of Music.

In addition to selections by Brahms, Mozart, Adams, Debussy and Barber, the February 17 program will feature faculty member Steve Lindeman on the piano as he premieres his new work, “Homage to a Son,” with faculty member Monte Belknap on violin and student Caroline Jorgenson on harp.  

“‘Homage to a Son’ is a title that has a couple of different meanings. The work is a tribute to many of the great composers of the past that have influenced me, and who are near and dear to my heart,” said Lindeman. “Woven throughout are literal quotations from concertos and other works by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Mussorgsky, Brahms, Saint-Saëns and Chausson. Moreover, there are some contemporary and diverse elements, with echoes of Paul Simon, the Beatles, Harry Nilsson, Peter Hollens and Herbie Hancock.”

The piece was composed as a tribute to one of Lindeman’s children, who inspired the composition and who shares a deep passion for music, particularly the three solo instruments of violin, harp and piano.

“I am grateful to Monte Belknap, who helped dramatically with the composition of the work through our collaboration and discussion of various approaches to the solo violin part,” Lindeman said. “In addition, soloist and School of Music student Caroline Jorgensen similarly collaborated with me on various possibilities of the harp in this context. I am especially grateful to Eric Hansen for his invitation to appear with the Philharmonic. He worked closely with me in shaping and helping to bring the composition to the orchestra.“

The February 25 program features selections by Verdi, Martin, Ravel, Elgar, Nelson and Liszt, with faculty member Robert Brandt appearing as vocal soloist.

“Rob Brandt will be the featured baritone in Frank Martin’s Sechs Monologues aus ‘Jedermann’ (Six Monologues from ‘Common Man’), a highly dramatic work of deep Christian symbolism and faith,” Hansen said.

While preparing for two performances has presented a host of challenges, students have put in the work necessary to prepare two exceptional concerts.

“It is a compacted and hurried process with some extra stress, particularly in light of COVID restrictions for our rehearsing,” Hansen said. “Only during the few de Jong rehearsals can the orchestra be all together; the rest of the days, due to distancing safety in the rehearsal rooms, the orchestra is split. It is a whole new way of preparing the repertoire for the students, but they are rising marvelously and adapting — kudos to them!”