Southeast Missouri, Southern Illinois Symphonies Combine to Present ‘Great Rivers’ Concert

The Southeast Missouri Symphony and the Southern Illinois Symphony will combine to perform three large-scale symphonic works inspired by three great rivers -- the Rhine River, the Moldau River and the Mississippi River -- Monday, April 24, in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall on the River Campus of Southeast Missouri State University. Conductors for the concert, scheduled for 7:30 p.m., will be Sara Edgerton and Edward Benyas, conductors of the two symphonies performing together for the concert. The program will start with an impressive composition for full symphony orchestra by the famous Romantic composer, Robert Schumann.  This work is his “Symphony No. 3,” also known as the “‘Rhenish’ Symphony,” and is written in celebration of the Rhine River. Schumann had visited the Rhine with his beloved wife Clara, and the very happy memories of his visit inspired this beautiful, appealing composition.  Its five moments include a joyous opening movement, followed by a “Landler” which is reminiscent of German folksong. The third movement is a lovely, gentle melody for woodwinds with flowing string accompaniment. The fourth movement, marked “Solemnly,” was inspired by a ceremony that Schumann observed that took place in a great cathedral: its use of low brass, played very quietly and in high register, provides a magical, reverent atmosphere. The final movement is a spirited, energetic work that brings all of the orchestral forces together in a lively finale. The second half of the concert will feature the famous “Moldau” for full symphony orchestra by Czech composer, Bedrich Smetana.  This work is the most well-known of his series of symphonic sketches entitled “Ma Vlast” (“My Life”).  In the “Moldau,” Smetana describes the Moldau River from its origin as two small streams (depicted by two flutes), which join to form the Moldau.  As the listener is transported downstream on this symphonic poem, scenes of a hunt in the forest, a peasant wedding feast and a moonlight dance are depicted.  As the river grows in strength, turbulent rapids are encountered; finally, the listener arrives at “The Broad and Mighty Moldau.” The concert will conclude with American composer Ferde Grofé’s jazzy, upbeat “Mississippi Suite.”  In a similar vein as Smetana’s “Moldau,” Grofé’s “Mississippi Suite” depicts the great Mississippi from its origins to its eventual destination in the Gulf of Mexico.  The four movements of this suite: “Father of Waters,” “Huckleberry Finn,” “Old Creole Days” and “Mardi Gras” provide a marvelously evocative description of this great river. The Southeast Missouri Symphony and the Southern Illinois Symphony will combine to present these three colorful and exciting symphonic works. “We are very excited about this upcoming concert,” said Edgerton, the conductor of the Southeast Missouri Symphony.  “Once every two years, we combine forces with the Southern Illinois Symphony, to present large-scale symphonic works in concert both here at the River Campus and at SIU-Carbondale.  Since this is the 10th season at the River Campus, Professor Benyas and I wanted to include music that would help to celebrate this important milestone.  The three pieces presented on this concert provide wonderful musical portraits of three of the great rivers of the world. “Another aspect of this concert is the festive nature of the collaboration of the two symphonies,” Edgerton added. “By combining the forces of the two orchestras, we will have a large orchestra of approximately 90 musicians on stage. This very full orchestra creates a thrilling sound and should provide a very inspiring performance. The students from both universities also sit side-by-side, allowing for a unique opportunity in a real-life setting to network and learn from their peers. Come and celebrate the Tenth Season at the River Campus with the “Great Rivers” symphony concert!” Edgerton said. Tickets Tickets are now available and can be purchased by contacting the River Campus Box Office, located in the Cultural Arts Center, 518 S. Fountain St., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by calling (573) 651-2265 or online at