On Wednesday Nov. 30, the Keene State College Orchestra performed an innovative program to celebrate Don Baldini’s final concert as conductor of the orchestra.
Baldini has been an artist in residence at Keene State since 1992 after concluding a successful professional career that included appearances with Frank Sinatra as a studio musician in Los Angeles. During his career at Keene State, Baldini conducted the KSC Jazz Ensemble and founded the KSC Orchestra program.
The concert program began with “The Moldau” from a suite titled, “Má Vlast” by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana. The first piece garnered a standing ovation from the audience. The Smetana piece was followed by the famous work by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky entitled “A Night on Bald Mountain.” After a short intermission, the concert concluded with the “Suite for Variety Orchestra No. 1” by Dmitri Shostakovich and the rousing “Radetzky March” by Johann Strauss Sr.
During the intermission, the Keene State Music Department faculty filed onto the stage to honor Don Baldini’s service to the Keene State community.
Christopher Swist, resident artist and professor of percussion, presented Baldini with a commemorative plaque and remarked that “Don’s musical standards define what it takes to make it in the changing music industry.”
Jose Lezcano, Keene State professor of guitar and director of the Guitar Orchestra, said the Baldini “leaves big shoes to fill” for the future conductor of the KSC Orchestra.
Dr. Joseph Darby, Keene State professor of musicology, thanked Baldini “for bringing orchestral and jazz literature to this college.”
Steven Lauture, a junior at Keene State and the concertmaster of the KSC Orchestra, said that he has played in the orchestra for three years.
Lauture said, “I love the music he [Baldini] chooses. While it’s sad that he’s leaving, he started this orchestra so he will still be here.”
Lauture said that performing under the guidance of Baldini has also influenced him as a musician. He said, “Baldini picks challenging music that improves my skills on the violin. You have to grow as a musician to fit the piece.
With the orchestra, I have played the ‘Ninth Symphony’ by Antonín Dvorak and ‘Danse Macabre’ by Camille Saint-Saëns.”
Audience member, Carey Citak is a senior at Keene State. Citak said, “I loved the concert. Don always puts on such a great show.”
Ally McNamee, a senior at Keene State, said that she thoroughly enjoyed the performance. McNamee said that “it was really good. I played in the band program in middle school so it was cool to listen to the different instrument parts of the orchestra.”
To honor Baldini’s significant impact on the Keene State College community, the KSC Music Department is organizing a scholarship fund in his name for accomplished string players.
Ethan Chalmers can be contacted at email@example.com