Whitworth's Symphony Orchestra performs annual concerto concert at St. Luke Lutheran Church

Whitworth's own Symphony Orchestra performed a concerto concert at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Spokane, Wash. on Saturday, Mar. 5.  Conducted by the director of string studies at Whitworth, Philip Baldwin, the symphony orchestra performed its third concert of this school year. The focus on especially talented individual performers makes this concert special.

“Other ones are focused on the development of the group,”  Baldwin said. “This one is focused on the development of the top soloists. It highlights the people who have achieved a great level of skill in their instruments.”

Students who performed solos in Saturday’s performance earned their positions through  competing with other music students for the spots. Audience members got to listen to some of Whitworth’s best instrumentalists and vocalists.

Those interested in the arts particularly enjoy performances by the Symphony Orchestra, which consists of 55 student performers.

“They get to see the astonishing level of our top singers and instrumentalists,” Baldwin said.

The individuals with solos got a change to work one-on-one with Baldwin to perfect their pieces and make recommendations before the concert took place.

“What’s been the most fun about this whole process is working with students in a professional capacity. I get to see a different side of them,” Baldwin said. “They’re taking ownership of their craft in a new way, and in an appropriate way.”

Some of the soloists included oboe player, Linnea Pearson and trumpet player, Kurt Marcum, who are both currently finishing up their senior years at Whitworth. Saturday was Pearson’s second time performing with the Whitworth Orchestra as a concerto competition winner, and she has won the silver medal at Musicfest Northwest Young Artists competition for the past three years. She has also been a semi-finalist for the last two years for the Coeur d’Alene Concerto Competition.

Pearson is a music performance major, and has been playing the oboe for about seven years. Her solo on Saturday evening was one of her favorite pieces.

“It’s a great opportunity to have a chance to play it with an orchestra because you don’t get that opportunity very often,” Pearson said.

Pearson will be performing numerous times throughout the rest of the school year in the three ensembles she is in, as well as playing with choirs, but a very important one is coming up quickly. Her senior recital is next weekend.

Post-graduation plans are currently up in the air.

“I’ll know in April. I’m looking at grad schools, so we’ll see. I would like to go off and study more oboe,” Pearson said.

Marcum, a double performance major in jazz and classical, has been playing the trumpet for 12 years. He won the Outstanding Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition at the 2010 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, where he competed against graduate students from some major state universities. He has been a featured soloist with the Whitworth University Jazz Ensemble I for the last three years. Marcum stays very busy with performing.

“I’m in six ensembles and I’m playing in other groups around town,” Marcum said.

This concert allowed students like Marcum to show what they’re made of.

“It’s a really good experience to know what it’s like to be a soloist in a more professional situation,” Marcum said.

As far as post-graduation plans, Marcum has applied to graduate school in New York and was hired as a performer at a Christian music camp for the coming summer.

Numerous vocal performers were also highlighted, including Whitworth seniors, Rachel Morris and Jillian McLarnin.

For many of the senior performers, this will be one of their last performances with a Whitworth musical ensemble. This concert was a culmination of many years of hard work, and they were able to showcase their impressive talents.

The Symphony Orchestra performed six pieces on Saturday, including “Concerto for Oboe” by R. Strauss, which featured Pearson on the oboe, and “Concerto for Trumpet in E-flat minor” by A. Pakhmutova, which featured Marcum on the trumpet. Morris and McLarnin were both featured in “Domine Deus” from Mass in G, BWV 236 by J.S. Bach.

The orchestra performed at St. Luke Lutheran Church because of Baldwin’s ties there, as it is the church he attends, but also because Cowles Auditorium was unavailable for the evening. Only one of the four orchestra concerts this year has taken place on campus, and the final one of the semester will take place at the Bing Crosby Theater in downtown Spokane.

The Whitworth University Music Department is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. Many Whitworth music majors have gone on to prestigious graduate schools, fulfilling performance careers and successful teaching positions.

Story by Maddie Hayes