When he entered the chapel at Iowa Wesleyan University Sunday evening, psychology sophomore Keshun Harris was convinced he would not like the music being performed by the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra.
Admitting the only reason he attended the performance was because of an assignment for his musical literature class, he sat in the balcony of the chapel as the musical group performed “Fantastique!” concert as part of the Masterworks Series. As he listened to the music, which director Bob McConnell described to the audience as the story of a man’s unrequited love for a woman, Harris found himself enjoying the exciting and energetic performance.
“I thought it was going to be boring, honestly, because it was an assignment,” he said. “I actually enjoyed the performance.”
When asked if he would see the orchestra perform again, he said with a chuckle “maybe, if it’s mandatory.”
Now entering its 68th season, the orchestra is considered one of southeast Iowa’s top cultural organizations. Patrons at the event were treated to a full concert.
Mary McLerran attended the performance with her son, saying they enjoyed going to musical performances together. This marked the second year she has been attending orchestra performances.
“It is wonderful,” she said. “I love his (McConnell’s) narration of it and I can hear everything in the music once I knew to look for it.”
Jennifer Coop, fine arts coordinator at the Mt. Pleasant Christian School, attended the concert to see the artist in residence, Buddy Deshler, playing the trumpet in the performance. She said it had been a while since she has seen the orchestra, but after seeing Deshler performing in practice, she wanted to see the entire performance.
“It’s important to appreciate the musical arts,” she said.
Jana Nieman, McConnell’s sister, attended the performance, saying her brother’s enthusiasm about the performance brought her out. She said it seemed like a performance she did not want to miss.
“This is really a very good group of performers,” she said after the concert. “They are very talented and tonight is outstanding. I liked it broken up with interpretation of the music between the performances. The music was written with the intent of telling a story. I was very impressed.”
While he doesn’t drive anymore, Ted Stewart made the drive with nephew Rick Bordwell from Washington on the icy night to listen to the performance. Stewart has been a longtime fan of the symphony. He complimented the second movement of the performance.
“It’s a tune I can remember,” he laughed. “Not too complicated, I guess. I really liked it.”