Student-conducted orchestra to perform Mozart, Vivaldi in Alice Millar Chapel


Brian Meng/The Daily Northwestern

Taichi Fukumura rehearses his ensemble, Accompanietta, for their upcoming performance. The concert will feature the Vivaldi “Gloria” and Mozart’s 41st Symphony.

Jennifer Hepp, Reporter


Taichi Fukumura came into his first year of college with lofty aspirations. A violin performance student at Boston University with a desire to conduct, he created Accompanietta — a student, volunteer-based orchestra — as a way for him to gain conducting experience.

Now, seven years later and 1,000 miles away, Fukumura (Bienen ’17), a first-year doctoral student in conducting, has recreated the group in Chicago, where it will perform Antonio Vivaldi’s “Gloria” and Mozart’s 41st Symphony in Alice Millar Chapel on Thursday.

The performance of “Gloria” will feature Accompanietta’s first-ever collaboration with a choir, the Northwestern Music Academy Chorus. Fukumura said the group is comprised of adult students from the Chicago area, with whom the partnership so far has been “fantastic.”

“It’s been really fun and they’re working really hard,” he said. “They’ve scheduled so many extra sectionals, and the singers are so excited and motivated.”

Vivaldi’s “Gloria” is a very popular piece in choral repertoire, as most community or church choirs sing it, Fukumura said.

NU Music Academy Chorus director Natalia Lyashenko said there are challenges performing major classical works with an amateur chorus, but the group brings “new flavor” to the pieces it sings.

“We don’t turn people away if they’re not great singers or readers,” Lyashenko said. “Everybody is welcome. We try to teach how to sing and how to read music while we’re working on different music.”

A majority of singers in the chorus are part of the NU community, Lyashenko said, as they are professors and University employees, or have family members on campus.

Lyashenko said “Gloria’s” light, delicate style makes the arrangement difficult to perform. However, some of this difficulty is alleviated by the enjoyment the group gets from examining the interactions between the harmonies and the text, she said.

“(Lots of) composers wrote music for (the text of) ‘Gloria,’” she said. “It’s just incredible to see the meaning they put into those words and how much it means for them.”

Bienen graduates Bahareh Poureslami (Bienen ’17) and Carl Alexander (Bienen ’17) are featured as soloists on the Vivaldi piece. Fukumura said the collaboration has been a long time coming for him and Poureslami, as he wanted to join forces with her when he first began studying at NU three years ago.

Poureslami, a soprano, will sing a solo aria and a duet with countertenor Alexander. Two of the featured moments display contrasting styles, she said, calling the aria “slow and beautiful” and the duet “quicker” with “fantastic harmonies.”

The concert will close with Mozart’s 41st and final symphony, popularly nicknamed the Jupiter symphony. The last movement of the symphony is famous for its five-part fugal writing, Fukumura said. A fugue is a compositional technique where a melody is introduced, then reintroduced in other parts with elaborations and alterations.

“It’s very unusual for a classical symphony because usually you would expect something … easy to listen to (in the final movement),” Fukumura said. “All of the academic or substantial stuff is usually in the first movement.”

Fukumura said the last movement features different voices coming from all directions, creating the effect of “contrapuntal fireworks.” At the end, the chaos is quelled and everything lines up, like “several light bulbs all coming on at the same time,” he said.

The concert is a unique collaboration between professional singers, like Poureslami and Alexander, Bienen students and a community chorus. Poureslami said she is excited to collaborate with the NU Music Academy Chorus.

“As music majors, when we do stuff like this, sometimes it feels like just a job,” she said. “But for these guys, they want to be there and they take time out of their lives, and it’s very inspiring to see because they come together and they make beautiful music.”

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