By the time their sold-out concert with legendary folk duo the Indigo Girls rolls around on March 31, the CU Symphony Orchestra will have had only two 90-minute rehearsals and one dress rehearsal to prepare.
And that’s by design, according to director Gary Lewis.
“They’ll be experiencing a professional model for rehearsal. Being prepared with very little rehearsal time is a skill our students need to develop to function in today’s professional orchestra.”
In its second consecutive spring Artist Series collaboration, the orchestra will perform in Macky Auditorium with Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, collectively known and loved the world over as the Indigo Girls. On the program will be symphonic arrangements of some of the group’s greatest hits, including “Closer to Fine” and “Least Complicated.” Audiences will also hear a handful of songs off the Girls’ latest album, “One Lost Day.”
Similar to last year’s performance with Natalie Merchant, the concert represents an opportunity to reach a new audience.
“They’re a different kind of artist. That means a different kind of listener will get to hear the orchestra,” says Lewis.
And in the changing orchestra landscape, knowing Merchant as well as Mozart is becoming increasingly important.
“Pops have always been a part of what the professional musician will encounter,” says Lewis. “But with many orchestras now, it can be as much as 50 percent of what musicians will face in their careers.”
Performances like these also demonstrate the value of staying on your toes. Last year, Merchant came down with the flu before her performance. Most audience members were unaware of the situation until she explained toward the end of the second act; Lewis says that was due to Merchant’s professionalism—and the orchestra’s flexibility.
“At one point, Natalie didn’t come in at her cue, so the orchestra had to suspend things and wait for her to come in when she was ready. I was very proud of the students. They adjusted quickly and I don’t think the audience noticed,” says Lewis.
By receiving billing next to names like like Natalie Merchant and the Indigo Girls, Lewis says the College of Music is giving students an experience they’ll never forget, while helping address the needs of an aspiring orchestra musician.
“Minimal rehearsals are common, sightreading is critical and understanding of a variety of musical styles will help set our students apart. We’re grateful for this opportunity.”
The Indigo Girls perform with the CU Symphony Orchestra Thursday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. in Macky Auditorium. Eklund Opera Director Leigh Holman will give a pre-concert lecture in Macky room 102 at 6:45 p.m.