Students learn music through experience

The department of music will raise the curtain to unveil its orchestral program in a concert featuring Northern Kentucky University’s two new orchestras Monday, Oct. 13, in Greaves Hall.

This semester marks the first time interested students could enroll in either the Chamber

Orchestra or the Community Orchestra for university credit. The Chamber Orchestra consists of only string performers, while the Community Orchestra consists of strings, winds, brass and percussion.

“This will be an exciting cultural birth,” said Dr. Paul Kreider, music department chairman. “The addition of an orchestral program brings a facet of music culture not yet experienced at NKU on a regular basis.”

Assistant professor Dr. David Cole serves as conductor of both ensembles and director of orchestral studies. In addition to leading rehearsals, Dr. Cole teaches music appreciation, music literature and violin lessons.

“I think things are going well – there’s a real enthusiasm, a really great work ethic and our string faculty has recruited some absolutely marvelous students,” said Dr. Cole.

Among the members of the string faculty is the Amernet Quartet, an ensemble that has been referred to as “accomplished and intelligent” by The New York Times. As part of a $2.5 million gift from Patricia A. Corbett, the Amernet Quartet became the Corbett String Quartet in Residence at NKU.

“We’ve got one of the top string quartets in the world here, and the entire faculty is very supportive of the new orchestras,” said Tristan Sutton, freshman music performance major.

Sutton plays double bass in both the chamber and community orchestras, and he said his instructor Owen Lee, principal bassist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, is “just awesome.”

The department considers this new type of musical training vital to students entering music performance careers after college, Kreider said.

“In order to afford our students an opportunity to succeed,” said Kreider, “we must train the instrumentalists in the orchestral experience.” This type of experience is “most beneficial” to activities professionals are likely to encounter, he added.

“In any school of music, an orchestra is one of the things you must have to show people you’re serious,” Cole said.

In addition to the cultural, educational and artistic benefits, the music department believes the orchestras will serve as a recruiting tool for the university.

“That’s why I came here,” said Sutton.

Cole said he feels that these ensembles will continue to attract prospective students by offering new musical experiences as well as the unique educational philosophies of NKU.

“I think there are people who will come here for the things that make this place positive,” Cole said. Small class sizes and higher student-teacher interaction allow for musical opportunities not found at larger schools.

Also, high school students will be able to participate in the community orchestra before entering college, “which helps entice them to attend NKU,” Kreider said.

But most music students haven’t forgotten about the most important aspect.

“I think just to make music is most important and a lot of fun,” said Roxana Mendoza, junior music performance major, who plays cello in the chamber orchestra.

Mendoza is a transfer student from the Universidad de Veracruzana in Xalapa, Veracruz, a province in Mexico. When asked what the orchestras needed most at this point, she smiled and said “more cello.”

For more information, or to audition for either ensemble, contact Dr. David Cole at