As the audience filled up the chairs of the Fox Theatre, The Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra tuned their instruments and prepared to play their last concert in the facility.
The concert was unique compared to previous orchestra concerts. This is the first time in 14 years that the orchestra will play with more than one soloist and this is the last performance in the Fox. After this concert all performances will be in the new performing arts center located on GU’s campus.
After having to change the program mere months before the concert Kevin Hekmatpanah, director of the orchestra and professor of music at GU, brought together three colleagues of his from Central Washington University to perform: Denise Dillenbeck, who travels the country playing violin with different orchestras, John Pickett, professor of music as CWU, on piano and Nikolas Caoile, director of orchestras and acting chair of the music department at CWU, as the guest conductor and Hekmatpanah on cello to play Beethoven’s Triple Concerto.
“I think this concert has more of a family feel to it because Kevin, our director is playing in it along with two other faculty members from Central Washington [University],” said Ariah Mann, a junior at GU and principal second violin in the orchestra.
“It kind of feels like more of a collaborative project whereas the other two [concerts] we had, soloists come and it’s their show, but this one is cool [because we get] to play with Kevin and these faculty members who are instructors and teachers and it’s been really fun.”
“I’ve heard Kevin play a lot because I’m a fan of the orchestra. I thought the [violinist] had a good command of the instrument and the pianist was fun to watch,” said Christie Jacobs, an audience member and longtime fan of the orchestra.
“For me music has always told a story and that’s what I heard. I pictured in my mind different scenes in different musical movements and it was incredible,” said Barbra Hertz, who was attending her first Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra concert. “All three [soloists] made magic with their instruments.”
The other piece featured was a Schumann piece. This was a challenge for violins to master due to a vigorous and quick movements throughout the piece Hekmatpanah said.
“I felt like [the Schumann] went pretty well. It really tests your ability to play fast and to play clean. So, it’s definitely a challenge for sure but I think we pulled it off,” said Mann.
“The Schumann was amazing,” said Jacobs. “The musical fireworks were just incredible. The Beethoven was extremely well done, and I loved the soloists, I thought they were great. It was different from what I expected but enjoyable.”
“I really appreciate the opportunity to play with musicians like this and I want to thank Kevin for going through all this work of setting this [concert] up,” said Mann. “I’m excited for what’s to come with the new performing arts center and this could possibly be our last performance here at the Fox so I’m just trying to enjoy that and soak it all in.”
At the end of the evening the orchestra received a standing ovation as they said goodbye to the Fox.