By Ellen McAllister

On Friday, Feb. 16 and Saturday, Feb. 17, Gault Recital Hall was filled with the melodic sounds of the Wooster Symphony Orchestra (WSO), directed by Jeffery Lindberg. The guests were in for an evening of musical wonderment and surprises for the next hour and a half. As soon as the orchestra began playing, all negative feelings brought by the cold weather instantly melted away. 

Jane Nolte ’26, violinist and co-concertmaster for the WSO, was excited about the line up of pieces for the evening, even though the songs were a little more demanding than the group was used to: “There was much to cover with only four weeks of rehearsal time, whether it be the never-ending flurries of sixteenth notes in the Bizet, the technical demands of the Rimsky-Korsakov or the interaction between soloist and ensemble in the Haydn.”

The concert began with “Symphony in C,” composed by Georges Bizet, which consisted of four movements. The first movement of the piece, titled “Allegro vivo,” meaning “cheerful and lively,” was just that. The attendees were immediately drawn into the musical wonders of Bizet and the WSO. After this piece, there was a brief intermission to rearrange the stage for the second half of the concert and the biggest treat of the evening. 

Mingyao Zhao, a teacher of the cello at The College of Wooster and Oberlin Community Music School, graced the stage with her cello for the Symphony’s next piece: “Concerto No. 2 in D Major for Violoncello and Orchestra, Hob. VIIb/2, Op. 101,” composed by Franz Joseph Haydn. This piece featured three movements, each one letting the solo cello shine. Zhao and her instrument took center stage, accompanied and enhanced by the rest of the orchestra. The notes swelled off the pages and swirled into the audience, leaving each guest waiting for the next note and feeling the time and dedication it takes to learn a piece of such complexity.

The finale for the evening was “Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34,” composed by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The orchestra members moved chairs and music stands to make room for more instruments, including a harp.. With five movements, this piece was a delightful coda to the evening. The WSO members enjoyed performing as much as the attendees enjoyed listening. As violinist Grace Alexandrowski ’24 said, “This concert was such a fun and rewarding experience. It was a challenge to learn our pieces in such a quick turnaround, but so worth it knowing we could share our hard work with friends and family in person and over a livestream.”

Founded in 1915-1916 academic year, the Wooster Symphony Orchestra is in its 108th year and is composed of students, faculty and staff from the College, in addition to many community members from Wooster and the surrounding areas who come together to share their love of music and performing. Reflecting on the tireless preparations for the concert, Nolte remarked, “We had to trust in one another’s hard work when approaching these pieces within such a short time frame. I’m proud of how our hard work paid off, and even more appreciative of the positive reception I’ve heard from audience members.”

The Wooster Symphony Orchestra’s next concert is a commencement concert on Friday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m. in McGaw Chapel.