Students across majors perform in university orchestra groups

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An engineering student is playing the cello and an English major is on percussion. This may sound like High School Musical, but it is actually happening right here at BYU.

Coming to college most students have to choose: practice the cello or write the paper that was put off for weeks?

For non-music majors, it can be hard to find time for music. In BYU’s University Orchestra and University Strings, however, students from all programs have the opportunity to practice and perform.

There is no shortage of musical talent at BYU, but the actual music program is limited. Many students choose to study other things while trying to keep their love for music alive.

“I really missed being in orchestra. The last orchestra I was in was in high school,” University Strings violinist Julia Routh said.

Practice time can be hard to find when other priorities pile up.  

“With the computer engineering, it’s a heavy homework load. But when I do practice, I usually practice when I try to find an escape from homework,” Routh said.

Musicians can work on their own, but there’s no replacement for the energy in an ensemble. Creating music is a team effort and for many students, the camaraderie is their favorite part.

“It’s amazing to create orchestral music and to play symphonies and be part of something big,” Routh said.

The conductors, who are students themselves, pick the music and coach the groups through the semester. Each is learning how to work with the group while developing their own conducting style. This fall, they’re excited about the orchestras’ hard work.

“The repertoire that we’ve been able to pull off, especially ‘Jupiter,’ that’s a really gnarly piece, and having a non-major enthusiast group be able to pull that off, that’s really spectacular,” conductor Taylor Rhodes said.

At the dress rehearsal, both groups were making final preparations before going on stage tonight. Conductor Alex Bennett said he is looking forward to the concert.

“I think we’ve worked really hard and we’re ready to play our hearts out,” Bennett said.

If you are looking to dust off the old violin, this could be your chance. University Orchestra and University Strings will perform tonight at 7:30 in the de Jong Concert Hall.

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