The Hope College Symphonette 2015 Midwest Tour was a success! We performed 7 different concerts during our 5 day trip at different locations in the Michigan and Illinois area. Our 16 member group was able to all fit onto a large charter bus with enough room for instruments on board and all of our luggage and equipment below. It was nice to have a smaller group than usual in the fact that we were a lot less squished and had more space on the bus. The smaller group allowed for a stronger sense of camaraderie amongst the group as well.
We performed 5 different orchestral works:
-Mozart’s “Divertimento in D Major, K. 136”
-Elgar’s “Serenade for Strings in E Minor”
-Tchaikovsky’s “Andante Cantabile from String Quartet No. 1, Op. 11”
-Bartok’s “Rumanian Folk Dances,” a suite of seven short pieces composed by Bartok and arranged by Arthur Willner
-Britten’s “Simple Symphony.”
The Divertimento in D Major, K. 136 was the earliest work we performed and consisted of many fast passages for the first violin section. The Elgar and Tchaikovsky were latter works from the Romantic period of music and had much more blending of difficulty for all the string parts, these pieces showed more gradual dynamic changes than the Mozart. The Bartok and Britten were the latest works and had many string crossings and difficult rhythmic passages. It was a great selection of music that spanned a large range of time and different stylistic elements for stringed instrumentalists.
We performed at 3 churches and 3 schools. On tour, a virtue that is very important to have is flexibility. Different venues lead to different spacial and acoustic obstacles or benefits. With some churches and schools the stages were smaller than others and we needed to adjust our set-up accordingly. Also the different materials or structure of a hall leads to different sounds and resonance. Because we are playing on acoustic instruments that are not hooked up to an amp, all of our sound resonates purely from our instruments. In rooms that are smaller and made of harder materials the instruments are able to resonate and the orchestra fills up the room with a beautiful sound. If a room is very carpeted our sound will be muted and it is sometimes harder to hear other members of the group.
With so much traveling, waking up early, set-up and tear-down tour life can get exhausting. Thankfully we had free time to explore some of the towns we visited and were able to eat at some wonderful restaurants and even got to hear a performance of the Chicago Symphony. Due to performing our program together so many times and traveling in such close quarters we were all able to bond as a group and experience the power of music even more than in normal rehearsals.
Below are pictures of some of our performances and free time activities. If you ever get the chance to go on tour with an orchestra make the most of every moment. :D
Hope you enjoyed learning a bit about what a tour with a small orchestra might be like!
See you all in your lessons this week :D
More information on the tour:
During my time at Hope College I was able to go on tour with the Symphonette Strings to different churches and schools around the country. Our Symphonette is a small chamber orchestra as opposed to a larger symphony orchestra. My Freshman year of college we traveled to Boston, the next year Florida, then New York, & last year South Carolina. Performing with a group of musicians and traveling with them over a long period of time gives you the chance to bond musically and emotionally like nothing else. These were some of the most memorable moments from my time at Hope College. & This is why I am so very excited to get another chance to tag along!
This year I will be gone with the Symphonette touring in Chicago from March 13th-18th. We will be playing a concert in Holland, one in Ada, and the rest in the Chicago area. Below is a picture of our group from last year. I will be documenting some of the trip and talking a bit about the music we performed here on the blog in the next month. Playing in a small chamber orchestra takes certain skills and attention to detail musically. If any of you are ever able to join an orchestra or chamber group I would strongly support your decision. It will help your musicianship immensely and you will be able to learn about the inner workings of how ensemble members give and take in order to put a performance together.
Have a splendid week!
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