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A Review of Carthage Philharmonic’s “The Tempest”

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On March 12, the Carthage Philharmonic had the privilege of presenting their anticipated Shakespeare Celebration concert. Under the direction of Professor Edward Kawakami and Dr. Paul Luongo, the orchestra performed “The Tempest,” a collection of music inspired by William Shakespeare’s play of the same name.

The first piece, “Introduction & Fanfare,” written by Carthage professor Mark Petering, had its world premiere that afternoon. Soft and cheery, it truly evoked the opening pages of the play, becoming more and more intense as it imitated an approaching storm.

The next two pieces, “Am Meer” (At the Seashore) and “Der Doppelgӓnger” (The Ghostly Double), featured baritone Kyle Sackett who almost stole the spotlight from the orchestra’s gentle tones. In “Am Meer,” he softly sang of a man who drank his lover’s tears, ultimately becoming poisoned by his longing for her. “Der Doppelgӓnger” featured more powerful vocals as Sackett mourned the loss of a beloved, infusing the lyrics with just the right amount of emotion and control.

“Erlkӧnig,” the third piece, was originally a poem, written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which tells the story of a father and son riding home at night in a dark forest. The son is continuously startled by unseen beings, one of them being the infamous elf-king, and his father attempts to reassure him that it is only the natural sights and sounds of the forest. This particular piece indeed had that lively but nervous quality to it, as though to confuse listeners as to where it was heading, much like the father and son’s jaunt in the woods. Interestingly enough, “Erkӧnig” was supposed to have a vocal part, which had been expertly worked into the already existing orchestral parts. At certain intervals, it was easy to tell where vocals would have come in, but that did not take away from the work in the slightest; each instrument was able to add its own rich detail to the spaces where lyrics would have been.

The last piece, Selections from “The Tempest, Op. 109,” was by far the most impressive. Each selection was permeated by a small group of actors reenacting scenes from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”

It was obvious how much the actors enjoyed the experience of performing, using the accompanying music as a guide. Each selection was unique, growing in earnestness as the final part came to its mighty conclusion, with Prospero (Neil Scharnick) happily exclaiming, “Let your indulgence set me free.” With that, the concert came to a triumphant close, ending with applause so thunderous, it nearly put Shakespeare’s own “tempestuous noise” to shame.

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