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LyricLion: Of the Students, by the Students and for the Students

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On Friday, February 8th, Solomon Hoffman, Columbia 2014, conducted the LyricLion ensemble in its latest concert. LyricLion is unique among campus organizations for its mission as a student ensemble dedicated to performing student works. Its like the New Juilliard Ensemble, but more home-grown. Check them out here!

In their concerts, LyricLion presents an eclectic mix of New Music compositions and pop arrangements, giving composers "the opportunity to experience their work in new ways and break genre boundaries", according to the Columbia Daily Spectator.

The most recent concert was, overall, a resounding success. Music directors often struggle to package New Music, yet Hoffman crafted an incredibly balanced program, alternating between pop and New Music to deliver an extremely palatable forray into modern composition.

LyricLion is composed entirely of student musicians, featuring Caroline Sonett (CC '14) on flute, Cynthia Jung (CC/CJ '15) on bassoon, Joe Betts (CC/CJ '15) on Horn, Elizabeth Sun (CC '15) and Joy Pai (CC '16) on violin, and Corinna Boylan (CC '15) and Maddie Tucker (CC/CJ '15) on cello. The musicians showed astute musical tastes and excellent communication, and melded their sounds together, at times, to a truly inspiring result.

Although the musicians managed to pull off a nearly flawless performance on extremely limited rehearsal time, the players sounded a bit uncomfortable with some pieces. And more importantly--a possible consequence of the group's exquisitely balanced sound--no one personality truly emerged to led the group. Overall, though, given students' busy schedules and few rehearsals, the performance was an impressive result.

The night featured works by composers including Solomon Hoffman (CC '14), myself (CC '14), Tareq Abuissa (CC '14), Paul Bloom (CC' 17), Jared Field (TC '15), Zak Hap (CC '17), Joshua Keough (CC '17), Daniel Lazour (CC '16) and Audrey Vardanega (CC '17) as well as arrangements of singer/songwriter pieces by Olivia Harris (CC '14), Emilie Schattman (BC '15), Taylor Simone (CC '14), Sarah Dooley (BC '11), Dominique Star (CC '13), and guests Katy Rea and Andrea Ross.

The audience cheered loudest to Abuissa's "Seasonal IV: No Ears" and Harris' "Live Wire". I also personally enjoyed Vardanega's "Wind Septet" and Field's "Waltz of the Wallflower". Both elicited a Shostakovich-like irony, and both wrestled with well-conceived melodies that seemed to mimic and taunt the Russian's style. "My Body is Champagne", by Dooley, carried this sense of irony even further, often eliciting chuckles from the audience.

The concert ended with an encore by Hoffman. Concise and perfectly polished, it wrapped up the concert with well-deserved cheers.

A previous performance

*Note: CC refers to Columbia College, BC refers to Barnard College, and CC/CJ refers to students in the Columbia/Juilliard exchange program