The startling clash of cymbals, the thunderous boom of the kettle drums, the precise and fiery melody of the strings. No matter how old you are, if you’ve never experienced a full orchestra live, you’re missing out.
Being on the younger end of life myself, I understand that sitting in a dark concert hall for a couple of hours may not seem enjoyable. But in the middle of our fast-paced lives and over-stimulation, we could use some exposure to classical music that has withstood centuries because of how amazing it is. Live orchestra performances aren’t boring, and the Austin Civic Orchestra exists to prove that point.
This community-based, non-profit organization is one of the oldest of its kind in the United States. Though some members are music teachers or music major graduates, others are chemists, moms, accountants and retired professionals. They cut across generations, genders and nationalities.
But the volunteer aspect may be the most powerful; members rehearse weekly, ten months out of the year. They invest their time and energy not for a paycheck, but because they love the music and community. “Everyone is here because they want to be, not because they have to be,” Dr. Brian Lewis told me at the Orchestra’s most recent concert on May 12th.
Connecting UT Students With the Orchestra
Professor of Violin Brian Lewis has taught at UT’s Butler School of Music for the past eleven years. A smiling individual who exudes energy and passion for his craft, Dr. Lewis has been working for the past one and a half years to connect his talented UT students with the Austin Civic Orchestra. “How can we bring great forces together?” is a question he constantly asks, as he works to create more opportunities for his string players.
On May 12, 2013, he saw the fruit of his efforts when four exceptional Butler School of Music students had their moment in the spotlight. Brian Emmon Hall, Renata van der Vyver, Jun Seo and Letitia Jap won the opportunity to play with the Austin Civic Orchestra (ACO), leading the way for an annual partnership between Butler and ACO. “I’m very proud of these young people. They do Austin proud,” Dr. Lewis commented.
Your Next Chance to Experience the Austin Civic Orchestra
The Austin Civic Orchestra is closing off this season with their free, annual concert at Zilker Park on June 7-8, 2013. This year, they’re doing something they’ve never done before with “Missed It By That Much,” a collection of soundtrack selections from popular movies that celebrated anniversaries this past year.
Take a blanket and your family and friends, and enjoy the music playing from Zilker Hillside Theater. If you’ve never experienced live orchestra before, this is a great way to start!
Major Changes Coming for Austin Civic Orchestra
The mission of the Austin Civic Orchestra has always been the same: “to engage, inspire, and education our audiences by presenting high-quality, affordable classical music concerts.”
But the way the Orchestra achieves its mission is about to change drastically. In the coming 2013-2014 season, orchestra members will leave traditional formal outfits behind. Music Director Lois Ferrari told me that attire will be more casual, as AOC works to cultivate younger and new audiences.
Not only that, but newer musical selections will be incorporating into AOC performances. Their website states, “ACO will program the usual beloved classics alongside new and eclectic works, some of which might be considered off-beat, cross-genre, or even radical!” I was surprised when Ferrari told me that the entire AOC Board of Directors was excited about the new changes without reservation. This attitude really speaks to the community service-driven heart of the organization.
The motto for the new season is “Embracing the Classics, Exploring the Future.” Learn more about the Austin Civic Orchestra and next season’s schedule at AustinCivicOrchestra.org.
Have you experienced the excitement of live orchestra? I’d love for you to share your memories in a comment!