RIC Symphony’s Bicho Concert to feature faculty soloists, April 30

Rhode Island College faculty members John Sumerlin, violin, and Steven Laven, cello, will be the soloists on Johannes Brahms’s “Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra” in the RIC Symphony Orchestra’s 34th Annual Bicho Family Memorial Scholarship Concert.

The performance will be held on Monday, April 30, at 8 p.m. in the Auditorium in Roberts Hall.

Steven Laven

John Sumerlin
Opening the program is Brahms’s “Academic Overture,” a work written on the occasion of the University of Breslau conferring on him an honorary doctoral degree. Brahms drew upon his “scholarly” memories and offered them “a jolly potpourri of student songs à la Suppé.”

The grand coda of the “Academic Festival Overture” is built on the song “Gaudeamus Igitur,” whose words translate as “Let us now enjoy ourselves while we are still young.”

Also on the program is Ludwig van Beethoven’s revolutionary Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, “The Eroica,” so-called because “it exemplifies what we may call the life-history of heroic achievement,” said Edward Markward, conductor of the Symphony Orchestra.

According to Markward, the original dedication was to Napoleon Bonaparte, but sometime during the composition of this symphony Beethoven learned that Napoleon had declared himself emperor. In a rage, Beethoven scratched out the dedication with such force that he tore through the page. There are many theories as to what “Eroica” now meant.

“One thing is clear, however: after its composition, filled with new length, new harmonies, a ‘funeral march’ and staggering proportions and gestures, music could never again be the same,” said Markward, who is now in his 39th year conducting the Symphony Orchestra.

Guest performers John Sumerlin and Steven Laven are members of the Proteus String Quartet, the college’s groundbreaking faculty ensemble.

Edward Markward
Sumerlin, a professor of music, teaches applied violin and viola, conducts the Rhode Island College Chamber Orchestra, and is director of chamber music. He performs as a recitalist, as concertmaster of the RIC Symphony Orchestra and has appeared as soloist with the orchestra on numerous occasions. Also a composer, his three-act opera “AIR” was given its professional world premiere performance at RIC in 2002.

Laven appears with the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, the Rhode Island Philharmonic, Rhode Island Civic Chorale & Orchestra, Boston Baroque, Boston Symphony and Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. He has held titled positions in the Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera and Omaha Symphony Orchestras.

The Bicho Family Memorial Scholarship Concert honors the memory of two sisters, Rita and Mary Bicho, who devoted their lives to the teaching of music – Rita as professor of piano at RIC and Mary as a longtime public school teacher and violinist. The winners of the Bicho scholarships are announced at intermission of the concert.

A general admission donation of $10 is requested ($5 Seniors and non-RIC Students), with all proceeds going directly to the Bicho scholarship fund administered by the Rhode Island College Foundation. The concert is free for RIC students, faculty and staff. For tickets, contact the RIC Box Office at (401) 456-8144.