Music majors show their stuff

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If you closed your eyes, you would think you were listening to a major municipal orchestra. However, this was an orchestra composed of students majoring in music at UCLA. In their initial concert under the baton of conductor Neal Stulberg, the UCLA Philharmonia gave an inspired performance at a professional level.

Here is another venue where one can hear music without having to pay the high prices demanded downtown. The cost was $7 for general admission and $3 for students. The Jon Popper Auditorium in Schoenberg Hall was a sell-out, and it was gratifying to see a large number of young men and women enjoying a program of classical music.

Maestro Stulberg presented a program that was both imaginative and slightly daring; in a bold move, he started with a performance of “Ceremonial: An Autumn Ode,” by Toru Takemitsu. The soloist, Kazuyuki Kawata, appeared in full Japanese ceremonial dress and played an unusual instrument called a sho. It was an interesting beginning.

This was followed by a scintillating performance of Dvorak’s popular “Cello Concerto in B Minor” with guest artist Antonio Lysy, who has an impressive background as soloist with major orchestras. He made the cello sing and the orchestra backed him up beautifully.

The concert ended with a rousing performance of Prokofiev’s “Symphony No. 5.” The students were all responsive to the demands of their conductor and showed they could play difficult music with ease.

Much credit must go to Stulberg, who has conducted orchestras all over the world, most recently in Taiwan. He was rewarded with highly deserved applause from the appreciative audience.

A free concert of the UCLA Symphony, composed of campus musicians, will be held on Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. with Mr. Stulberg conducting and appearing as soloist in the Shostakovich “Piano Concerto No. 2” at Schoenberg Hall.