Orchestra to be offered next year

by Sarina Rhinehart and Sarah Stout

Starting next year, Simpson will be adding a new ensemble to their music department with the creation of an orchestra.

This group is open to all students, music and non-music majors. Alumni, faculty and community members are also welcome to play.

Mike Eckerty, assistant director of music and director of instrumental ensembles at Simpson, will conduct the orchestra.

“String parts are open to alumni and community members and several people have contacted me about that,” Eckerty said.

The idea to create the orchestra was a joint effort of many faculty and staff which has been in the works for a while.

“I was an orchestra player,” Eckerty said. “President Byrd had the idea years ago, I expressed the idea two years ago to him and we have been laying the guideline since. There are a lot of people who would like to have it happen.”

Anna Schmidt, senior and vocal music education major has played the violin for 13 years and is excited that Simpson students will have the chance to play in a campus strings ensemble.

“I am really excited that future string students at Simpson will be able to have an outlet to play in a large group setting,” Schmidt said. “It will also be a great asset for the college to increase its student population.”

This is an appealing opportunity for students who have played string interments in high school and wish to continue playing at the college level.

“Even though I came to Simpson for their vocal program, I was disappointed that they did not have a string program,” Schmidt said.

Junior Stephen Henrich is just one example of a non-music major student who will be in the orchestra. He is a biochemistry, mathematics and philosophy triple major but still enjoys playing the violin.

“I am very excited about the new orchestral ensemble next year,” Henrich said. “We have a number of excellent string players at Simpson and this will be a great way to showcase their talent. I have played solos and accompanied vocalists over the past couple years but until now haven’t had the opportunity to play with other string players.”

This program will give students who are interested in orchestra a way to continue playing while at college.

“I wanted to provide the opportunity for student to play orchestral music more often and allow a vehicle for the string players,” Eckerty said.

Simpson sees this orchestra as a way to get more students on campus involved in music and to bring together a group of students, alumni and faculty in a way that is not currently available on campus.

“I think the orchestra will be a great way for Simpson to build stronger relations with the community and will be an excellent addition to the strong repertoire of instrumental ensembles at Simpson,” Henrich said.

Schmidt feels that the new orchestra will be very beneficial to campus.

“(Benefits include) a potential increase in student population; greater variety in music performed on campus, for both vocal and instrumental, creative outlet for all string players in the area (and) a fabulous time to get to know other students on campus and create beautiful music,” Schmidt said.

This year, a few string instrument students showed a great interest in partaking in an ensemble so they worked hard and put together a small string chamber group that performed for the first time at the band concert this past Tuesday.

Orchestra will be offered as a one-credit course next semester, titled MUS-214-O.

If students are interested in joining they should contact Mike Eckerty at [email protected]