BYU non-music majors to perform in University Strings and Orchestra

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BYU’s University Strings and University Orchestra will perform on March 23 at 7:30 p.m. via livestream. The students participating are all non-music majors, and the conductors are master’s students. (Aubrey Bailey/BYU Arts)

Both University Strings and University Orchestra allow BYU non-music majors to practice and perform and give master’s students the chance to conduct.

The two groups will perform via live stream on March 23 at 7:30 p.m. on the BYU Arts website.

Senior psychology major Rebekah Leavitt plays the viola for University Strings. She said Strings and Orchestra allow students to feel part of a group without committing to a major or minor in music.

Leavitt said the concert features many styles of music, but her favorite is the Mozart piece. She enjoys performing because she can work with a group to create something others will appreciate.

The conductors for the concert are all music master’s students. Conductor and second-year master’s student Courtney Petersen said she loves going through her program and seeing all the different majors of students in the orchestra. Her favorite part of conducting is meeting new people.

Petersen said the students’ participation in the orchestras shows their desire to connect, since it may be their only class where they can connect with people in-person.

Rehearsals had to adapt to pandemic restrictions, Petersen said, and socially-distanced seating arrangements make it harder for students to hear the ensemble. Rehearsals are split into sections, and students have less time to practice before a performance.

“They’re just really resilient to that challenge in a way that I didn’t expect from people who have really busy lives,” Petersen said. “They care about the music, and more than that, they care about each other.”

Peterson said she hopes the music live streams can provide the audience with a connection to people that is lacking during the pandemic.

Courtney Petersen takes a picture of her castanets during a rehearsal with the percussion section. Taylor Rhodes conducts the rehearsal of the piece “Danse Bacchanale.” (Courtney Petersen)

Ruth Davidson, a sophomore in viola performance, is in the BYU Philharmonic. She will not be performing on March 23 but said the difficulties of COVID-19 apply to all the orchestras at BYU.

Davidson said she wants to communicate with the audience through music in a way words can’t. “I hope that especially through a screen, they feel the energy of the performance and that the people in the performance actually care about what we’re playing.”

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