An Afternoon with Brahms

Published on 24 April 2017

The auditorium hummed with musical scales and the gathering of students, faculty and staff for the performance by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Ensemble. The much anticipated performance marks the conclusion of the 2016-2017 Liberal Arts (LA) Convocation Series.

John A. Peiper, Pharm.D., FCCP, FAPhA, president of St. Louis College of Pharmacy and member of the St. Louis Symphony Board of Trustees, gave opening remarks and noted the historical significance of the two institutions. While the College will soon celebrate 153 years, the St. Louis Symphony is not far behind, as the second-oldest symphony orchestra in the United States. This shared history in the St. Louis community strengthens the seven-year institutional partnership between the St. Louis Symphony and the College.

The ensemble composed of pianist Peter Henderson, violinist Celeste Golden Boyer and horn player Chris Dwyer opened with thoughts on how they hand-picked the Brahms Horn Trio for the 2017-2018 LA Convocation Series theme humble healing. The piece, written as an elegy to Brahms’s recently passed mother, explores the themes of nostalgia, anguish and healing after loss. The trio is an unusual blend of brass, piano and violin and reflects Brahms’s youth, as he played all three instruments.

The playful conversation between the three instruments is evident in all four movements. The first movement is a meditative “walk in the woods,” filled with an undeniable melancholy, while the second and fourth movements explore a more triumphant “hunting theme.” The third movement is the true tribute to Brahms’s mother, with a strong nostalgic longing.

The audience was enraptured throughout the performance, with a tense quiet and attention felt throughout the auditorium. As encouraged by Pieper in his opening remarks, students, faculty and staff truly engaged in letting go of their day, even if only for an hour, and experienced a brief moment of humble healing. 

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