October 22, 2006


Tonight I finally managed to get to a KGS (Knox-Galesburg Symphony) concert. I've been meaning to for years but something else always managed to come up. KGS has a great reputation, and I'm pretty sure I've heard that they've won a bunch of state awards.

I confess I was a little underwhelmed.

Not that any of it was bad; I just had somewhat higher expectations. The first piece they did was entitled "Two Latino sketches", and it was a poor attempt at a fusion piece involving Latin American rhythms and orchestral styling. The second movement in particular was far too weak in the percussion to pull off what it was trying to do, and I found it extremely distracting that it kept almost but not quite quoting the overture to West Side Story.

The second piece was the one with the guest performer, a violinist, performing Sibelius's violin concerto. She had some technically very difficult bits that she executed quite well. But the piece as a whole failed to come together; if it had been a chorus I'd accuse them of not blending enough, though you might call it something different for instrumental work. The score also failed to keep my interest, and in this piece more than the other two I found myself drifting off and thinking about other things. Which is not a terrible thing, but not the optimal condition for a symphony concert.

After intermission was a symphony by someone named Carl Nielsen, whom I'd not heard of before reading the program, and it was certainly the best piece of the night. I'm not sure if it was just better-rehearsed or what, but it felt like the orchestra had it together a lot better. Although my mind still wandered a bit on this one, it both held my attention the best and sounded the best.

So overall I was a little disappointed. On the other hand, I certainly intend to come back for more; next month they're doing Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody, and in February they have a harpist as their guest performer; hopefully I can make it to those concerts too....

On 9/11: "We looked inward rather than outward, and sadly, did exactly what our president asked us to do. Kept shopping. Not conserving. And certainly not sacrificing. Most of us, myself included, have given up nothing except, of course, a few treasured constitutional freedoms." --Carol Marin

Posted by blahedo at 1:01am on 22 Oct 2006
My thoughts on KGS are that they are a very good symphony for Galesburg. The very fact that Galesburg has a relatively small population means that the odds of finding talented musicians are less than what they would be in a larger city. The salaries of Knox faculty members are pitiful, which means that the music department isn't going to be attractive to a lot of people. The symphony doesn't have a lot of money either - in particular since Maytag got outsourced.

No, they're not the best, and I'm not trying to say that you shouldn't criticize them - because you should - but I think that when all things are considered they do a really great job. Of course, since I worked there for 3+ years I am biased. :) Posted by Susannah at 12:56pm on 22 Oct 2006
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