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University Orchestra showcases students of all ages

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Erika Devins, senior, and Samanth Willson, junior, music majors, play a violin solos during the University Orchestra performance. photo by Brittney Whatley
Erika Devins, senior, and Samanth Willson, junior, music majors, play a violin solos during the University Orchestra performance. photo by Brittney Whatley

Music from Bach, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky echoed through the halls surrounding the Hoag Hall Theater at Colorado State University-Pueblo, as chamber ensembles and the University Orchestra performed classical pieces on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

“I can’t imagine a world without music, that is why I do this,” Director Jacob Chi said during the University Orchestra’s performance.

The performance was centralized around classical pieces by well-known composers such as Bach, Beethoven and Tchailkovsky, said senior music major in a viola performance, Jacquelyn Bottcher.

She said that the orchestra usually performs a more modern piece, but Chi decided not to choose one for this semester’s performance.

Bottcher performed in both the chamber ensembles and the University Orchestra.

Depending on a student’s major, she said, they may be required to play in both performances as well as a solo performance, which takes place at a separate concert.

The chamber ensembles began around 8 p.m., after spectators had found their seats and quieted down.

Alumnus Richard Johnson, 70, a retired school teacher, said he and his wife, Donna, 61, regularly attend musical events at the university.

“We’re very curious about this performance,” Donna Johnson said.

Donna Johnson said she read about the dates of upcoming performances hosted by CSU-Pueblo’s music department in the Pueblo Chieftain, and said she decided to attend the orchestra concert because she and her husband enjoy watching musical performances.

Once the audience had quieted, the lights were dimed and ensembles began.

Erika Devins, senior, and Samanth Willson, junior, music majors, play a violin solos during the University Orchestra performance. photo by Brittney Whatley
Erika Devins, senior, and Samanth Willson, junior, music majors, play a violin solos during the University Orchestra performance. photo by Brittney Whatley

The first ensemble, consisting of two violins, a viola and a cello, performed “American,” a String Quartet in F Major by A. Dvorak.

One of the violinists for the first ensemble, Rebecca Phillips, 18, a home-schooled high school senior, said she began private lessons with Veronika Afanassieva, from the Veronika String Quartet, and was invited to play in the Chamber Ensembles.

Each ensemble was coached by one of the members of Veronika String Quartet, according to the concert program.
Phillips said the Veronika String Quartet placed the students into ensembles based on personality and ability.

Her ensemble was followed by three other ensembles that performed pieces by composers Schumann, Purcell and Beethoven.

Bottcher performed “Chacony” by Purcell, on the viola with a string quartet.

The University Orchestra performed two pieces of music: the 1st and 2nd movements of P. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony in E Minor, and the 1st movement in Bach’s Concerto in D Minor, for 2 violins.

During the orchestra’s performance, Director Jacob Chi explained to the audience the underlying concepts, or “stories” behind the music.

He went into particular detail with the background of the composer Tchaikovsky, and Chi said he did this to help better the audiences’ understanding of the pieces he chose for the orchestra to perform.

“Many audience members aren’t classically trained when they come to the concert,” Chi said. “And they don’t know what the composer really means or what the notes really mean.”

He said that many small community orchestras or university orchestras will explain the music to the audience so they can understand these underlying “stories” because he said “music is communication.”

Chi also explained during the performance that many of the University Orchestra members are either high school or middle school students.

Ben Roth, an 8th grade student at Roncalli Middle School, said he had been performing with the orchestra since he was in 6th grade when he was invited by his private lessons instructor Ekaterina Dobrotvorskaia.

Bottcher said the orchestra consists of about 50 percent college students and then 50 percent high school and middle school students.

After the ending the 2nd movement by Tchaikovsky, Chi announced that the last piece was prepared as an encore.

Chi said to the audience that they could image themselves sipping on tea while listening to the last performance.

“This is totally relaxed music,” Chi said.

The University Orchestra finished the night with the Concerto in D Minor by Bach with a violin duet performed by Erika Devins and Samantha Wilson.

The orchestra received a standing ovation from the audience.

“It was an outstanding performance, “Chi said, and he said he thought the students played really well and the audience as very nice.