Macon Symphony Orchestra delivers “Pathos and Passion” in its opening concert

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Image: provided by Roderick Cox

A native of Macon, Roderick Cox’s fluent conducting and remarkable enthusiasm have earned him conducting opportunities across the globe.

Laura Ann Harrell, Contributing Writer

Roderick Cox, a Macon native whose musical talent has led him to performance halls all over the world, recently served as the guest conductor for the Macon Symphony Orchestra’s first concert of the season, evocatively titled “Pathos and Passion.” By the time Cox walked in as the show began on Aug. 29, I was pleased to see that there was a full house, including several college students and young couples with children.

In addition to the emotional power of the music, much of the pathos and passion witnessed on the stage came from the conductor. Cox’s gestures, which involved his entire body, showed that he felt every emotion of each piece of music in the very core of his being. He moved in such a way that he almost looked entranced, which was fascinating to watch. The first piece the orchestra played was Beethoven’s “Leonora Overture No. 3”. The piece’s ominous quality, coupled with the way it appeared to alternate between strife and peace, seemed to be meant to imitate life.  

Next in the program came a series of pieces by Mendelssohn inspired by Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” These pieces gave me what I really hoped to gain from a concert called “Pathos and Passion” — sweet, dreamlike melodies that made me think of love in its gentlest, purest form. During these pieces, I closed my eyes and felt like I had been transported to a beautiful, romantic place. When I opened them again, I noticed that one of the violinists was also lost in sweet reverie, almost as if she wouldn’t leave her dream world in time to play her part.

The finale to the performance was Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 4,” but before it began, Cox gave a short history lesson to help the audience understand what they would hear. He explained that Tchaikovsky wrote the piece after marrying a woman for whom he felt no affection in the hopes of pleasing his elderly parents. As a result, Cox revealed, the work has a strong motif of the inescapability of fate, which is represented by loud, commanding instruments like the trumpet. With this in mind, I felt that the piece could be interpreted as a conversation between the different sections of the orchestra, in which the stringed instruments represent people who try to chart their own courses through life and the horns represent fate, which always has the final word.

At the end of the program, the musicians and the conductor took their bows and received a standing ovation. The ongoing applause and cheers proved that Macon was proud of its native son, who had conducted with extraordinary energy and passion.

If you would like to attend a Macon Symphony Orchestra concert, please visit http://www.maconsymphony.com/concerts-events/ for more information. All Mercer students receive free admission with a Bear Card.