Sounds of the holidays echo from the Waetjen Auditorium

Cleveland State dazzles with classics, such as the “Nutcracker Suite” in lively performance by Symphony Orchestra

By Skylar Bridgeforth

Fitting with the holiday season, the Cleveland State University  Symphonic Orchestra performed in the Waetjen Auditorium on Thursday, Nov. 22 and put on a dazzling show. Conducted by Victor Liva and student conductor Malik Khalfani, the orchestra played Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” and “Nutcracker Suites,” along with Aaron Copland’s “Dances from Rodeo.” 

The concert lasted approximately two hours and was attended by what seemed like mostly family members and a few student stragglers. The general consensus on attire seemed to be business casual/dressy casual. The performers were clothed uniformly in all black while the type of attire varied from formal dresses and suits, to a dress shirt and jeans. An air of excitement hung in the atmosphere, as patrons waited anxiously for the doors to the auditorium to open. At a few minutes before 7:30 p.m., the doors opened, and the expectant audience poured in. Chatter filled the air as we waited for the performers to file in.

Once the performers had seated themselves and tuned their respective instruments, the conductor came out and was met with applause. The performers and the audience then got settled. Strangely, the lights in the auditorium were not turned down right away like I have come to expect, although after intermission, they were turned down. 

The musicians onstage seemed to be very composed. If they felt any form of anxiety, nobody could have guessed. Their bowing, rising and falling of the instruments was very uniform. 

During the performance, everyone seemed to be enjoying it, even the few children that attended. They were bopping along to some of the more upbeat songs, although there was some confusion among the audience members on when to clap. 

The first suite that was played was Tchaicovsky’s  “Swan Lake.” This was a beautiful piece to start with, enchanting and soothing all-around. The harp solo was mesmerizing and gorgeously played. During the Hungarian dance, there was a visual of dancers dueling with maraca-like instruments in-hand. The Spanish dance brought imagery of a mariachi band playing in a little town in Spain. 

After intermission, the orchestra played Copeland’s four dance episodes from Rodeo, which brought thoughts of old-timey women and men dancing in suits and dresses, styled like the 1950s. The coral nocturne was extremely relaxing, and I could feel myself drifting off to the sweet, serene sound of this nocturne. In contrast, the hoedown was energetic, accompanied by visions of red and white checkered decor, line dancing and horses galloping down a dusty road.

The final suite played was the “Nutcracker Suite.” Personally, I thought this was a perfect choice, considering the upcoming holiday season. What was impressive was that the student conductor was able to conduct the entire suite with no music. I had never seen this done before, so I was amazed! The entire “Nutcracker Suite” brought thoughts of sugar plum fairies, ballerinas, nutcracker soldiers and mouse kings. I couldn’t help but bounce my head and leg along to some of the pieces. I noticed many other people did too.

This was a very enjoyable way to spend my night. I felt very relaxed as I was carried along to a different time and place. I would recommend going to see the Cleveland State symphonic orchestra for anyone that appreciates classical music, or even anyone looking for a fun, unique and classy date night.