Barton College/Wilson Symphony Orchestra Will Feature Oboe Concerto

WILSON, N.C. – The Barton College/Wilson Symphony will present its annual Spring Concert on Sunday, May 4, at 3 p.m. in Howard Chapel on the Barton College campus. The orchestra, under the direction of Mark N. Peterson, will feature noted oboist Robert Burkett who will perform the “Concerto for Oboe and String Orchestra” by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The orchestra will also play Brahms’ profoundly tuneful “Academic Festival Overture” and Franz Schubert’s sparkling “Symphony No. 7.”

Burkett, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., and currently a Greenville resident, is the orchestra’s principal oboist and holder of the Jack and Daisy Wiggins Endowed Chair. He performs with several of the orchestras in the Carolinas including longtime associations with the Fayetteville Symphony and the Long Bay Symphony of Myrtle Beach, S.C. He is a two-time winner of the South Carolina MTNA Young Artist Chamber Music Competition and has appeared as a soloist on the 2003 American Cancer Society’s Symphony of Hope Concert. Burkett has studied oboe with Dan Smith, Rebecca Nagel, and Bo Newsome.

Following the concert, the audience is cordially invited to meet the musicians at a reception in the Barton Art Museum hosted by ARAMARK Higher Education. Admission for the orchestra performance will be $10 at the door or by season ticket. All students within the community will be admitted free of charge as well as faculty, staff, and students of Barton College.

For additional information about the concert, please contact Lynn Medlin at 252-399-6309 or email:

Symphony Notes by Mark Peterson –

Considered by many as an “English nationalist composer,” Williams is underappreciated despite his nine masterful symphonies. His compositions, like those of Dvorák and Grieg, are infused and colored by the nationality of their composer, but not overwhelmed by it. Williams sought to free English music from foreign domination so that it would truly be the music of the English people. As a student, he was first rejected by Elgar but was able to subsequently study with both the Frenchman Maurice Ravel and the German Max Bruch. While he mastered his teachers’ techniques, his style remained uniquely English. The “Concerto for Oboe” was written in 1944 for the virtuoso Leon Goossens. The intended premiere on July 5, 1944 was cancelled because of German bombing. The Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Malcolm Sargent, gave the first performance in Liverpool on September 30, 1944. The oboe concerto originates from a discarded sketch from the scherzo of his “Symphony No. 5 in D major.”

Brahms composed the “Academic Festival Overture” during the summer of 1880 as a musical “thank you” to the University of Breslau, which had awarded him an honorary doctorate the previous year. The work is a potpourri of German student songs celebrating the less intellectual aspects of college life: wenching, wining, and freshman initiation! The various tunes include “Wir haben gebauet ein stattliches Haus” (“We have built a stately house”) in the trumpets, followed by the noble “Landesvater” (“Father of his country”) melody in the strings. Coming next is the lively tune of the freshman-initiation “fox-ride,” “Was kommt dort von der Höhe?” (“What comes from there on high?”). All of these tunes parade past once again before Brahms brings in the oldest and most famous of German student songs, “Gaudeamus igitur,” “Let us rejoice while we are still young; after a jolly youth and a burdensome old age, the earth will claim us.”

Schubert was just 19 years old when he composed his Symphony No. 7. In Vienna in 1816, Mozart’s influence was still strongly felt and, with this symphony, Schubert created the ultimate homage to his famous role model. With the exception of a few daring modulations and a handful of romantic harmonies, there is nothing in this work that Mozart would have found unusual or groundbreaking. Rather, he gave us a lively and scintillating work, infused with the best elements found in the symphonies of Haydn and Mozart, his illustrious Viennese predecessors.


Questions? Please contact Kathy Daughety, director of public relations, at 252-399-6529 or email: