Arts, On Campus

Boston College Symphony Orchestra Blends Vocals and Instrumentals for ‘Belonging’

The Boston College Symphony Orchestra (BCSO) gave audiences a classy and monumental show on Sunday, Feb. 18, when it presented “Belonging,” a concert conducted by BCSO’s Anna Wittstruck. The concert featured the U.S. premiere of a composition composed by BC professor Shannon Jacob, solos by three student winners of the 2023–24 Concerto-Aria Competition, and the music of notable composers like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Gian Carlo Menotti, and Gaetano Donizetti.

The concert began with BCSO playing Mozart’s “Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major,” featuring a beautiful solo from Priscilla Lee, MCAS ’27, one of the Concerto-Aria Competition winners.

Lee’s impassioned and intricate performance, coupled with the backing of the BCSO, left the audience in awe and garnered a thunderous applause.

The program then progressed to BCSOs renditions of Donizetti’s “Bella siccome un angelo” and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “The Vagabond,” both of which featured vocal baritone soloist Colin Klein, MCAS ’24, another winner of the Concerto-Aria Competition.

“This was honestly one of the coolest things I’ve done,” Klein said. “Normally, I just sing with a piano, but singing with the whole orchestra was so much more fun.”

The fourth number of the program featured the third and final winner of the Concerto-Aria Competition, soprano vocalist Alexandrina Weingart, MCAS ’25, who sang a gorgeous rendition of “Steal me, Sweet Thief,” composed by Menotti. Weingart’s heartfelt expressions coupled with her stunning vibrato made this an outstanding number.

One of the highlights of the concert was the fifth piece: the U.S. premiere of “Motherlands: Belonging,” which was composed by Jacob. Jacob is also the director of Voices of Imani, BC’s gospel choir. Jacob’s piece felt magical, and the audience could feel the message of belonging that Jacob based her composition on.

“I am just so happy that so many people got to experience this because I wrote this for the community,” Jacob said. “To have everyone show up and hear it meant the world to me.”

The concert ended with the BCSO playing Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt Suite No.1,” which featured four movements: “Morning Mood,” “The Death of Ase,” “Anitra’s Dance,” and “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” The blend of the instruments and Wittstruck’s passionate conducting made this piece a brilliant finale to an outstanding concert.

Overall, the BCSO concert wonderfully showcased its talented musicians, both students and faculty, who practice their talents in the BC community. From the strong blend of instrumentalists with stunning vocal and violin soloists to the brilliant conducting and composing of BC faculty, the BCSO concert highlighted BC’s musical talent.

February 25, 2024