The Civic Orchestra of Abilene will create a new opportunity for students and faculty to play for an orchestra through a cooperative effort sponsored by Abilene Christian, Hardin-Simmons, and McMurry Universities. In addition to providing an orchestral opportunity for university students, it will also have “a very strong community outreach focus.”
Steven Ward, Director of Orchestra and Bands at ACU, said in the mid 80’s the schools combined their programs and resources to start the Tri-Collegiate Orchestra. In 2007, ACU and HSU began their own orchestras. But this past spring, HSU decided to eliminate that aspect of the program.
“It created an opportunity for us as a community of universities and also as the city of Abilene to come together to do something for the university students and for the city,” said Ward.
Some community members include ACU professors, Richard Wright, Mark Riggs, and Susan Teel. Other community members will be participating as well.
The COA’s mission, according to their website, is to provide experience for students and faculty interested in orchestra, provide projects and concerts with partners such as AISD and other schools in the area, and “an educational mission and focus, reaching and serving the community of Abilene as an artistic ensemble.”
The whole project has been moving forward since it started in the summer, and during the first week of class about 80 auditions were completed.
“The auditions went really well,” Ward said. “It went great.”
The first partnerships with AISD is to bring the top orchestra from Cooper High School and Abilene High School to perform on the first concert November 3rd in Cullen Auditorium.
The COA will perform Vienna Philharmonic Fanfare (Richard Strauss), Carnival Overture (Antonin Dvorak), Elegy (David McKee, world premiere performance). The top orchestra from Cooper and top orchestra from Abilene High will each perform a piece, and the orchestras will combine for a performance of the Finale from Symphony No. 5 (Dimitri Shostakovich).
“We are really excited to see how this is going to grow and how this is going to look,” Ward said.
Ward encourages everyone in the Abilene and ACU community to attend the concerts. “There is going to be a really wonderful feeling of the three universities coming together and not only within the orchestra itself but also some of the soloists that are going to play with us.”
For more information, visit http://www.civicorchabilene.org.