A wave of silence descended on the audience as the lights went out. The musicians sat with their backs straight in their chairs awaiting the director’s signal to raise their instruments into playing position. Anticipation swept through the audience as they waited for the deep resonance of the cellos of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
On Thursday evening, a large audience filled the Foellinger Great Hall at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts to watch a performance by the famed Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
The Orchestra usually comes to Urbana once a year to perform at the KCPA, but the pandemic has halted their appearances – the last at the University was in October 2019.
But this year, the Orchestra has come back strong under the direction of Grammy-winning conductor Paavo Järvi.
Tickets for the show were completely sold out, and although a few couldn’t make it, the large Foellinger Hall was packed with over 1,600 people. This was KCPA’s first sold-out show since their reopening.
“It’s amazing, we’ve missed playing for a live audience for so long that just having such a grateful audience, I think everyone appreciates that a lot more,” Lai said.
The concert began with a short overture by French composer Hector Berlioz entitled “Roman Carnival”. It was then followed by Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto, and the performance ended with another piece by Berlioz, “Symphonie Fantastique”.
The award-winning British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor joined the Orchestra during Chopin’s play. It was Grosvenor’s debut with the CSO as well as his first leg of his 2022 US tour.
When asked about her experience working with Grosvenor, Lai had nothing but praise to say.
“He’s fantastic, he had such a good touch on the piano and he goes with how he feels,” Lai said.
Engineering graduate student Austin Motley was impressed with Grosvenor’s musicality.
“The movement of Chopin’s piece was amazing,” Motley said. “He played ridiculous scales and he had such good control with the softer parts of the piece that it was so amazing.”
Motley attended the show with fellow graduate student Richard Alonzo who has seen the Orchestra on several occasions. Alonzo said he and Motley were both excited to experience CSO on campus.
“I think it’s amazing that we can get such a low price for a world-class symphony,” Motley said.
The audience was filled with various groups of community members and students, some in formal wear, but also a few in the bright orange and blue colors of the University. CSO tickets can cost up to hundreds of dollars, but due to student grants included in the tuition, students were able to purchase a ticket for only $10.
Information Science Senior Tiffany Duong got to see CSO perform for the first time. She said she took the opportunity to make the event an informal social outing with 17 other people from her RSO.
“In high school, I was part of the band and orchestra where I played clarinet, so it was really cool to hear a professional orchestra play music and how well they were all in sync,” Duong said. .
The concert ended with a standing ovation from the audience as they enjoyed a piece of Chicago that once again returned to the KCPA.