Orchestra fulfills music department dream

This year a long-sought dream of music majors and professors alike, an orchestra ensemble, will be realized.

“Last year everyone wanted to come together,” Kristin Snyder, a sophomore violinist and in the orchestra, said. “We talked about it with Dr. Matthews. This year I heard this rumor about the orchestra.”

The final planning for the orchestra was made by the chair of the fine and performing arts division and the music and fine arts department Ron Matthews, interim Dean of Arts and Sciences Betsy Morgan, and THC dean and University Provost Chris Hall.

Over the summer, Matthews asked adjunct faculty member David Bryant to direct the orchestra.

David Bryant has been teaching at Eastern in music history and piano since the 1990’s.

“I think its going to be a little while to get it up and running,” Bryant said in a phone interview.

The new orchestra provides opportunities for instruments made for a full orchestra, and also allows non-music majors the chance to play in an ensemble.

“It’s a great opportunity for anyone who’s had a musical background to be part of a group with a great music conductor,” Snyder said. “It’s a great experience for community and getting to know people outside the music department.”

“As an oboe player, it’s amazing to have a full orchestra to play in because that’s what oboe is meant for,” said Isle Purrenhage, a sophomore majoring in environmental studies.

The present orchestra has four violins, two clarinets, an oboe, a French horn, a piano, a viola, a cello, one trumpet, and an electric bass guitar. Bryant says the orchestra is looking for a bassoon player and perhaps another oboe player and a trombone, but anyone interested is invited to join.

“Usually a chamber orchestra consists of eight violins, three to four violas, two cellos, one contrabrass, and two of each of the woodwinds and brass, plus one or two percussion players, as needed,” Matthews said in an email interview.

Senior and music major, Steven “Otter” Ottman, plays bass guitar in the ensemble.

“I think it’s great because I’m the only electric instrument in it [the orchestra],” Ottman said, “and, being an electric bass man, to play for an orchestra, I love it.”

Senior music major, Nathan Lohse, plays cello in the orchestra. Lohse said he was beside himself when he learned of the new orchestra.

“I’ve been looking forward to having something like this for four years now,” he said. “It will really help the music department, because it combines strings and band. This is proof that the music department is growing.”

The ensemble is practicing for their first performance at Eastern’s winter concert this semester. Selections being considered and practiced include Beethoven’s “First Symphony” and the “Ashokan Farewell.”

The orchestra is open to both students and faculty and to music and non-music majors. Practices are Monday nights from six p.m. until around nine p.m.

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