NMU Orchestra prepares new material for joint concert

Nolan Krebs

Some residents of Marquette would say that there’s a price to be paid for living in a place known for its geographic isolation: less than frequent visitors.

When a friend comes to town, it’s often cause for celebration.According to NMU Orchestra director Barbara Rhyneer, the opportunity to team up with the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra for a joint concert on Friday, Oct. 26, was something that couldn’t be passed up.

“Often times, we try to get together as orchestras in the U.P., but it can be difficult because of our different schedules,” Rhyneer said. “The conductor of the KSO wanted to go on tour, and sent out a number of requests, so we invited them to come and join us for a joint concert.”

While the two groups actually share a few members, the current NMU Orchestra has never played with the KSO for a concert like this, Rhyneer said.

The NMU Orchestra consists of both music and non-music majors from Northern, while the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra includes students from Michigan Tech. Both groups include community members as well.

“Often times the college orchestras in smaller towns will fill spots with people from the community,” Rhyneer said. “We’ve currently got a couple high school players as well.”

The NMU Orchestra will play the first half of the concert with three different pieces: “Coriolan Overture” composed by Ludwig van Beethoven, “Pavane for a Dead Princess” composed by Maurice Ravel and “Symphony No. 8 in B Minor” or the “Unfinished Symphony” by Franz Schubert.

The group has been working on the pieces since September, Rhyneer said.

“I’ve done ‘Unfinished Symphony’ before, but these are new pieces for this group,” she said.

Learning the new pieces has been both challenging and rewarding said cellist Alexis Mahler.

“The program [for the concert] is great for the ensemble,” Mahler said. “It’s filled with exciting and emotional music to be performed by energetic and passionate musicians. We have grown in different ways from each piece and I’m really proud of the progress we’ve made.”

The KSO, under the direction of Dr. Joel Neves, will perform two pieces during the second half of the concert: “Antar Symphony” composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and “Sleeping Beauty Suite” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

The chance to see the two groups performing together is unusual, Rhyneer said, and should be taken advantage of.

“The music is really exciting, which is something that people can forget because of the stigma of classical music,” Rhyneer said. “But to see musicians up close, two different groups and two different conductors – it will really be exciting to hear the differences.”

Collaborating with other groups is a really important experience for both the musicians and the community for a number of reasons, Mahler said.

“Not only does it appeal to a wider audience, but it mixes things up a bit for the listeners because they get to see and hear multiple ensembles in one performance,” Mahler said. “It’s extremely rewarding for us musicians, because we are exposed to performance and rehearsal techniques of other groups. It can be really inspiring for everyone involved.”

Students or community members who haven’t been to an orchestra concert before might be surprised at the energy of the experience, Mahler said.

“Even if they don’t think they like the kind of music we play, just watching students play their instruments and the conductor is fascinating,” Mahler said. “The whole vibe of an orchestra concert is different than a live band or show, not just because of the music, but because of it’s delivery and reception by the people.”

The concert begins at 3 p.m. and is free to the public. For more information, call the NMU Music Department at (906) 227-2563.