HAPPY SPRING BREAK, TOMMIES!
Whew. We made it through the first half of spring semester. It goes fast doesn’t it? I can hardly believe I’m closing in on the halfway mark along my journey through college! We can get into all this sentimental junk later. I wanted to write about something a little less so.
This year, for the first time, St. Thomas is offering an official string orchestra program! I found this out a little bit too late last semester to be 100% involved with it, but this spring I’ve been a full-time member! We meet from 1:30-3:10 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Our director is Dr. Matthew George, who also directs the Symphonic Wind Ensemble here at UST.
I’ll be honest, when I came to St. Thomas, I was a little disappointed to learn that they didn’t offer a real orchestra. True, a small ensemble was meeting casually once a week to play for an hour or so. But no concerts, no expectations, just a dozen kids without a ton of direction. Which is fine — but it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for. In high school, I was very very blessed to be involved with some stellar music programs. I played violin in two full orchestras, both of which were stacked with talent and passion for music. I suppose I assumed, perhaps unfairly, that music opportunities would get even BETTER when I came to college.
St. Thomas has an AMAZING choir and band program. I am not kidding. If you’re a prospective student hoping to sing or play a band instrument, this is a good place to be! There just happen to be fewer opportunities for string players.
But this year, that changed. Because now UST is growing their string ensemble. The hope is that within the next couple of years, St. Thomas will have a full-blown symphony orchestra. That, my friends, is where it’s at.
In any case, the current string orchestra has 16 members this semester. We just had a concert this week with the Symphonic Wind Ensemble over at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium at St. Catherine’s. We had a pretty awesome program: Mozart, Grieg, and an arrangement of a Colombian piece.
Here is a picture of our concert!
I thought we played pretty well!
The band, let me tell you guys, was amazing! They played some Russian music that was so great and then they performed a piece that was commissioned for them to play! The composer’s name is Victoriano Valencia and he’s from Colombia! ¡Qué Chévere! The suite has four parts, and tells the story of the Creation, the Apocalypse, and redemption through the cultural lens of South American music. I’ll be honest, I was emotionally moved by this piece! It was so profound, I can’t say it enough.
If you’re interested in listening to this piece at any time, I know that the UST band will be recording their performance of it in May and hopefully they’ll be distributing copies for those who want to hear it! It really was fabulous. I was so impressed by the talent and passion that students at this school have for music and their commitment to being excellent.
As my high school orchestra director, Mr. Eskola, would say, “When you do anything, be excellent at it.”