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The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

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Shoals Symphony hosts student performance

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Treasure Franklin

Audience members poured into the Norton Auditorium on the evening of March 9 with anticipation for a night of music led by the Shoals Symphony Orchestra. The evening’s performance would include a solo performance from the UNA Music Department Solo Contest winner, saxophonist Solomon Heinkel, followed by live debut of the 2021 post-classical album, Cube of Light.

Heinkel, a junior at UNA, began playing saxophone as early as the fifth grade. In those days, he had yet to discover his passion for music, saying that he chose the saxophone because it was the instrument he “hated the least.” Later on during his highschool years, however, he would develop a passion for the art that would eventually turn into a prospective career path. Since gaining this passion, he has begun to gain inspiration from many great composers and saxophonists like Count Basie, Otis Murphy, Tim McAllister and more.

Now, as a Music Performance major at UNA, Heinkel plans to one day attain a doctorate degree in his field, hoping to teach at the collegiate level as well. He believes that his time at UNA has only helped him grow as a saxophonist, under the teaching of faculty such as Dr. Tim Harris and others.

Heinkel’s time with the Shoals Symphony was centered around his rendition of Claude T. Smith’s, Fantasia. He says that his reason for choosing this piece was its difficulty. He went on to say that he believes everyone should aim to accomplish difficult things because it helps improve us as people.

The second featured act of the night, Cube of Light, presented the marriage of post-classical, electronic and alternative rock music. Composed by Christina Giacona and Patrick Conlon, the piece presents an intriguing and abstract storyline through the use of vocals, in combination with both orchestral and electronic instruments.

The night began with the presentation of Heinkel as the 2024 Solo Artist Contest winner by SSO Conductor, Dr. Suren Petrosyan. After the presentation, Heinkel took his place next to the conductor’s podium, and the piece began. Throughout his performance, Heinkel held the attention of the audience as he journeyed across the full range of his instrument. In combination with the support of the orchestra behind him, the first part of the performance was executed very well. Heinkel’s piece was followed by a performance of the Hiawatha Suite by the Shoals Symphony.

After a brief intermission, the audience returned for the final performance, Cube of Light. Giacona and Conlon’s composition utilized a unique blend of interpretive dance, modest light performances and instrumentation to tell their intended story. Their performance would go on to involve the audience through lights distributed upon entering the auditorium.

Some audience members had mixed feelings about the Cube of Light presentation, however. Domenico Brunetti, a freshman student at UNA studying Music Education, said that he enjoyed Heinkel’s solo piece, as well as the SSO’s Hiawatha Suite. Brunetti, also a saxophonist, enjoyed the representation of the instrument in an orchestral setting, noting the rarity of its presence in modern classical music.

Regarding Cube of Light, Brunetti had some critiques, however. “There were a lot of interesting compositional choices,” he said. “It sounded really weird, in my opinion.” He  continued to describe how he often felt as if he did not understand the purpose of certain compositional elements, specifically noting the use of interpretive dance. He also stated that he thinks the piece could have been served well by more detailed program notes to help the audience interpret and recognize the underlying themes of the show.

The Shoals Symphony Orchestra will be rounding out their 2023-2024 season later on this spring. On May 4, the SSO will deliver their last performance until the fall, with their production of How To Train Your Dragon, where the orchestra will accompany a live showing of the popular animated film from DreamWorks.

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About the Contributors
Trevor Mickle, A&E Editor
Trevor is a freshman student from Jemison, Alabama, majoring in Mass Communication with a concentration in Journalism and Digital Media Production. Trevor is excited to get involved on campus help keep students informed on important topics in our community.
Treasure Franklin, Deputy Chief Photographer
Treasure Franklin is a junior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Applied Behavior Analysis. She is a member of the LaGrange Society, Student Government Association (SGA), and is in the Cole Honors College, as well as the Presidential Mentor's Academy. She is currently serving as a Staff Photographer; she has previously served as the website editor, and she has been a volunteer photographer/writer with The Flor-Ala since August of 2021.

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