Gonzaga Symphony

Lynn Harrell and the Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra perform at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox in downtown Spokane. Harrell is a world-renowned cellist and is regarded as one of the top performing artists worldwide.

On Dec. 3, world renowned cellist, Lynn Harrell, played with the Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra to a full house for the second time. 

“It has never happened that someone comes back the next year. Usually you wait a year or two to heighten the anticipation. In this case [Harrell] was such a consummate artist and the audience was just enamored with him,” said Kevin Hekmatpanah, director of the Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra and professor of music.

Harrell had fond feelings about Gonzaga.

“I like Kevin [Hekmatpanah] and I love playing with young people." Harrell said. "I had such a wonderful time [last year] and everyone was so sweet and nice and accommodating to me when I was here.” 

Harrell said that one of the reasons he loves coming to GU is that he usually does not play with student or community orchestras and this gives him the opportunity to do so.

Harrel had planned to play two pieces by Dvorak and Herbert, but when he tore his rotator cuff it was changed to the “Elgar Concerto in E Minor."

They decided to play the Elgar instead because it was a piece Hekmatpanah imagined Harrell had played 800 to 1000 times and it was a piece that the orchestra had played two years ago, so students were already familiar with the piece. 

The other piece that was featured was “Brahms Symphony No. 3.”

“It’s a program of masterworks.” Mari Kellogg, a cellist in the orchestra, said. “Brahms doesn’t have a dud in any of his compositions and this is probably the greatest thing Elgar ever wrote.”

Hekmatpanah said students were over the moon when they heard Harrell was coming back and that they would have the opportunity to learn and play with him again.

“The students immediately transferred the respect they had from last year to this year and also he can be an intimidating person and once you know he’s a gentleman and he’s kind and he’s here to help you embrace that,” Hekmatpanah said. 

The students all agreed.

“It’s always great to play great music and you can do that individual but definitely who you’re with makes a world of difference too and can add that much more impact. Having him there playing with us was great,” said Jenny Sanchez, third chair of first violin section. 

Hekmatpanah hopes that Harrell will return once again and that GU will host many more artists like him.

Riley Utley is a news editor. Follow her on Twitter: @rileyutley.

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