Saddleback Symphony shares a night with Bach and Beethoven

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Saddleback College, students performed at the McKinney Theatre on Saturday evening

The McKinney Theatre at Saddleback College was filled with symphonic melodies, ascending scales and interweaving sequences from the 50-plus piece ensemble Saturday night. Ranging in all ages and demographics, all four families (strings, woodwinds, percussion and brass) of the orchestra were present as each musician displayed their own interpretation of the timeless compositions.  

“They did great! The energy, the enthusiasm – it was amazing” said conductor and Director of Instrumental Studies at Saddleback College Dr. Georgios Kouritas. “They played with a very high level of dedication and energy.” Preceding the night, Kouritas was heard encouraging his ensemble to have fun and enjoy.

Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92” served as the main event, played in its entirety by the orchestra. As part of celebrating 50 years of Saddleback College, the piece was specifically chosen for the occasion.

“Beethoven was a man who struggled and fought his whole life, but then he became successful,” said Kouritas. “He is a symbol for humanity. Dedication and persistence – that’s exactly what Saddleback College is. Everyday we are working hard, caring for our students and the community. We are always at the top as college because everyone has the same goal.”

Sculpture of Beethoven by Adolf Fremd, from the 1908 book Outlines of music history by Clarence Grant Hamilton. (Fremd/Wikicommons)

Just before the evening began with Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3 BWV 1068,” the seats filled up with the local community, students and lovers of the symphony orchestra. The arrangement set the tone for the rest of the evening with high strings and a bass-driven contrast.

“Bach and Beethoven. What could be better?” said Kouritas as he welcomed the masses with a brief introduction of the nights event. The appointed conductor also enlightened the audience with the historical context and significance of the pieces that were to be performed.

Ensemble and audience alike were impressed with the performances of the night.

“I always enjoy a night at the symphony and this ensemble played exceptionally well tonight,” said audience member Richard Nelson.

At times you could see an audience member raising her fist in the air as the theatre would rumble from the earth-shaking sounds courtesy of the percussion family. Patrons gave their applause and appreciation throughout the evening after each arrangement was completed.

“I thought it was great; both parts,” said clarinet player Carl Vanderbosch. “The strings have it a lot more difficult than we do because they carry the main melody throughout. We’re playing off-beats and the strings have to carry – they did very well.”

Like Beethoven himself, the Saddleback Symphony Orchestra expresses a level of commitment to learning the highest degree of education and performance. The ensemble displayed a professional precision to their work and dedication.

“We should support the arts as much as we can,” said Kouritas as the night came to an end. “Our arts – especially at Saddleback – should always be at a high level.”