On Nov. 15, the CU Philharmonia Orchestra will present a diverse range of repertoire for strings and full orchestra, including a new work by Jessica Mays, Maurice Ravel’s “Ma mère l’Oye” and Felix Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5 in D Major/minor, Op. 107.
“How great and refreshing it has been for students to come together this year—to listen and play together as a group again,” says Philharmonia Orchestra Director and Assistant Director of Orchestral Studies Joel Schut, who also conducts the Denver Young Artists Conservatory Orchestra.
“The College of Music is special in that we have two full orchestras,” he continues. “And the Philharmonia Orchestra is unique in that it's primarily comprised of undergraduate students, which provides great leadership opportunities for all instruments—winds are able to play major solo parts and string students are able to step into leadership roles where there might not be as many opportunities in the orchestra comprising primarily graduate students.”
As well, the Philharmonia Orchestra has a strong commitment to programming at least one underrepresented voice on each concert cycle. “I want to expose our students to different styles of music,” explains Schut. “For our November concert, we’ve prepared a brand new piece in a modern style, a classic French-style work and a traditional classical symphony—all requiring different techniques and ways of creating music.”
Specifically, the upcoming program includes Mays’ “Anthem for Go,” Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite” (note the many woodwind solos and the famous violin solo!) and Mendelssohn's four-movement “Reformation” symphony, one of the composer's most-performed scores.
In particular, the Philharmonia Orchestra’s performance of Mays’ “Anthem for Go”—originally commissioned for the Denver Young Artists Conservatory Orchestra—is all about a desire for risk taking and change. Mays puts it this way:
Within my piece, “Anthem for Go,” is an expansion on a theme that for me has embodied the spirit of overcoming hardship and listening to our burning desire for something more, something better. This piece is a tribute to both our heartbreak and resilience—our tears inspiring the conviction to move forward. Our desire to break down those systems that divide and rob us of our rights. It’s about our blind determination to push for something better for ourselves, our communities and our shared place on this miraculous planet. This is an anthem for that brilliant fire that lives in us all.
Schut further encourages concertgoers to listen for the unique voice of each part, marching forward to the end of the piece, bursting with energy and excitement.