Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra plays in Union Theater for the first time

Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra plays in Union Theater for the first time

Josh Naquin
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The Union Theater was alive with the sound of music Thursday as the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra played its first-ever performance in the space.

The LSU School of Music hosted the benefit concert featuring the Philharmonic's performance of Gustav Mahler's "Symphony No. 7." All profits from the concert were donated to a scholarship fund for University music students.

The event marked the first time the LPO has ever played at the Union Theater, according to Terry Serio, assistant director for theater event development.

Thursday's concert is one of many collaborations to come between the School of Music and the LPO, said Laurence Kaptain, dean of the College of Music and Dramatic Arts.

"We have a lot in common, and we're working to see how we can support each other," Kaptain said.

The event is part of a cultural partnership announced in March between the LSU School of Music and the LPO, which includes a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which finances the LPO's residency at the University through the end of May.

The new partnership has been in the works since December, with a letter of intent regarding commitment to one another finalized in February, according to Kaptain.

Kaptain was quick to note that the school's relationship with the Baton Rouge Symphonic Orchestra will remain close.

"They support this collaboration, and there is no competition between the two," Kaptain said.

Kaptain said he hopes the school's burgeoning relationship with the Philharmonic will help garner economic support from alumni in New Orleans, the LPO's home base.

"We are reaching outward to the community for support," Kaptain said. "Most university deans I've spoken with are doing the same."

The fundraising event is a small step toward filling the void left by $1.2 million in budget cuts from the School of Music and Dramatic Arts' scholarship fund. Kaptain is fearful for the lack of scholarship funds' effect on recruiting new undergraduate students, and he says he is not alone.

"For many students, it's a money game, and a lack of scholarships may hurt recruiting," said Sarah Perkins, doctorate student in viola performance.

Perkins, a member of the Baton Rouge Symphonic Orchestra, played with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra for the first time Thursday as sixth-chair viola. Perkins will play as a substitute for an LPO member unable to make it to the performance.

"It's extremely exciting to play with an orchestra which performs at such a high level," Perkins said.

The LPO is the only full-time orchestra in Louisiana. The University's partnership with the LPO is a welcome opportunity, according to Perkins.

"It's great to have Louisiana united on the music front," Perkins said.

The piece performed Thursday, Gustav Mahler's "Symphony No. 7," is expansive and melancholy, according to Jessada Paeratakul, freshman cello performance.

"It goes from night to day, from dark to light," Paeratakul said.

Kaptain described Mahler's piece as brisk but resolute and noted that the composer has a dedicated fan base.

"It's very dramatic with huge extremes of soft and loud," Kaptain said. "I find it to be intoxicating."