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Mario Torres
Mario Torres
Telling his story through music
Senior Mario Torres to perform with Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra Thursday
By David West

NATCHITOCHES – The Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra will open its 2012-13 season Thursday, Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Tickets are $10. Northwestern State University, BPCC@NSU and Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts students are admitted free with a current student I.D.

The orchestra will perform Festival Overture by Dmitri Shostakovich, Der Schwanendreher (The Swan Turner) by Paul Hindemith and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. 2012 NSU Concerto winner Mario Torres will be featured on viola. Dr. Douglas Bakenhus is music director and conductor of the orchestra.

Torres, a senior music performance, computer information systems and business administration major from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, will perform Der Schwanendreher. Torres said the song title refers to someone who cooks swans over a pit.

“It is based on traditional folk songs. Hindemith was a viola player and premiered this work,” said Torres. “It was not played much in Germany, but was very popular in the rest of Europe. Hindemith studied a lot of baroque technique as well as contemporary technique so some of his work was in the middle between those two styles.”

Torres considers Der Schwanendreher one of the best works written for viola.

“When he wrote the work, Hindemith was thinking about viola players,” said Torres. “He was considering techniques and the possibilities that would be available to other players of the piece.”

Torres began playing music in when he was in elementary school, then started at a conservatory when he was 11.

“At first, I wanted to play guitar or trumpet,” said Torres. “At the conservatory, they do not take your request into consideration when deciding what instrument you will play. They examine you physically to see what instrument will fit you and usually they are right. I had put down violin, cello or flute and they put me on viola. I was not that developed as a musician and didn’t like the viola at first, but I stayed at the conservatory and began to like it.”

According to Torres, the viola has some distinct qualities he enjoys.

 “I fell in love with the viola and prefer it to violin,” said Torres. “It is not easy to play. With a violin, everything feels very natural, but the viola requires an extra step. The viola appeals to me because it can be bright or deep. It can go high or low with a rich tone.”

Torres is a two-time winner of the NSU Concerto Competition. He has soloed with orchestras in Honduras and was also featured in a concert at the Monteux School of Music in Maine last summer.

“I enjoy the opportunity to tell my story through music,” said Torres. “The more opportunities I have to perform as a soloist, the more I learn how to communicate with an audience and reach them.”

Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is among the best known classical works.

“Its opening notes are one of the great expressions in the history of music,” said Bakenhus.

This summer, Bakenhus gained some insight into Beethoven when he visited Heiligenstadt, Austria, a suburb of Vienna, where the composer vacationed for several years.

“He was at a point in his life as he began to go deaf that he had to get away to find himself,” said Bakenhus. “While there, Beethoven wrote a letter to his brother, which he never sent, in which he said he considered suicide. But he decided he could not leave this world until he had created all God called him to. Several years later, he wrote the Fifth Symphony in which he grabbed fate by the throat.”

Bakenhus said the first movement begins with anger and defiance while the second movement is more prayerful. The work continues with a mysterious third movement and the fourth movement concludes on a triumphant note.