The Genesee Symphony Orchestra – then called the Batavia Civic Orchestra – gave their first concert on November 6, 1947. This afternoon, GSO marks the occasion with a special concert at Genesee Community College. Below is published the review of this first concert, written by Maud C. Stanley and published on November 7, 1947 in The Daily News.
There have been many auspicious occasions in this community in the past which were the result of intense interest and hard work on the part of those who started the project, but never have there been any results. as amazing in such a short time as last night. at the magnificent Dipson Batavia Theater, where the inhabitants of Batavia and the surrounding towns listened to the first concert of the Batavia Civic Orchestra under the direction of Jan Wolanek of Buffalo.
The story was made between 8:30 am and 10:30 am; a dream come true, bringing an idea to fruition and doing something on the aesthetic side for a change and it was thrilling, whether it was a lump in your throat or a tear in your eye. November 6 has become a moment to remember, a day of pride for all involved.
It all started with a few professionals and businessmen playing for their own pleasure. Someone suggested forming an orchestra. It apparently caught fire and eventually by its own momentum culminated in the most important event in the musical history of Batavia. Talent appeared from all points of the compass and everyone approached immediately became enthusiastic and many offered their presence. He didn’t need a sales art or a high pressure argument. The idea was sold before being presented.
LOTS OF DETAILS
Probably we will never know the immense amount of work and the endless details taken on by those who had faith and vision in the first place and, Norman F. Hall, director, and Hugh L. Lawing Jr., secretary, deserve all the praise and gratitude that we can give them with the able help of the executive committee, mapped out a very comprehensive campaign before the board came on the scene. The whole community is truly indebted to these two young men for their professional and intelligent planning. They were assisted by August Fricker, president; Chief Nicodemus Bailey, Vice-President; Dr Robert S. Jenks, Treasurer; Mrs. Olson and Frank E. Owen.
The musical values of the opening concert were considerable. The whole program was listened to attentively and warmly received judging by the standing ovations as the numbers were played, the capacity audience seemed eager to do their part and it was more evident from the first note that each performer wanted to bring their large-scale project to maturity and each one assumed his responsibility. The result was encouraging for the very excited audience, proud of our new musical organization.
Of course, this would not be possible without expert guidance. With the authoritative and artistic direction of Mr. Wolanek, the combination was perfect. Under the baton, each score left little to be desired and its convincing manner must have inspired confidence in the performers who were with few exceptions all amateur musicians and the results were a truly remarkable unity.
Mr. Wolanek drew from the whole a beautifully balanced reading of Gluck’s Overture of “Iphigénie en Aulis”. The German Country Dances were rhythmic, romantic or cheerful depending on their respective mood. In Mascagni’s “Prélude et intermezzo” of “Valalleria Rusticana”, he achieved beautiful lyrical effects and well-constructed climaxes. Of course, the ever popular “Showboat” is all of Kern’s music.
Samuel Pascal gave a lot of pleasure by singing “La Donna Mobile” by Verdi by Rigoletto, “Doucement comme le matin” by “New Moon” by Romberg and “Oklahoma” by Rodgers. Mr. Pascal revealed a rich, well-placed and excellent quality tenor voice.
The indisputable musicality displayed by Sebastian Fasanello, 11, was one of the delicious surprises of the evening. His technique and proper interpretation beyond his years in Hayden’s Concerto were most unusual. Also in response to the insistent applause, Sebastian performed a modern and artful arrangement of Thompson’s famous “Three Blind Mice”, then generously added “The Tin Soldier” by Octavio Pinto from his sequel, “Memories of Childhood”. Mrs. Wolanek educates the gifted pianist.
For the songs of Mr. Pascal and the Concerto of the talented young pianist, Mr. Wolanek conducted the orchestra in a well-proportioned accompaniment.
Throughout the evening as well as during rehearsals, Mr. Wolanek has conclusively proven that he knows his music and his performances are authentic and artistic and that he has an extraordinary ability to convey this to his orchestra. Therefore, under the expert guidance of this conductor, there will come constant development and knowledge of the inexhaustible supply of symphonic material and we will have such goodies that we never dreamed of.
GROWTH IS CERTAIN
With the advent of the Batavia Civic Orchestra, we have something very precious. It’s almost unbelievable that we have our own symphony group all bought and paid for, ready to deliver the rich store of unforgettable music to us in the future. And while we are very grateful for the lovely generosity of William J. Dipson in providing the beautiful environment and comfortable chairs for our first adventure in this field of music, we must look forward to the moment which we hope will is not far where we have our municipal auditorium, which will take care of the growing number of artists as well as the all the more important public, including the hundreds who could not attend last night, due to the lack of of seating.
In the meantime, the final rehearsal could be open to children under 16 whose school record justifies this privilege and the only condition would be that they sit down and listen. This would not only be of immense educational value, but would offer those who study music the opportunity to be admitted to the Batavia Civic Orchestra in the future.
The second orchestral concert will probably take place in February. The third will take place in May.