Behind the Orchestra's Musical Performance

Arts  /  by Parrish Albahary '20  /  April 14, 2017

Courtesy of Winston Shum '19

Yesterday, Lawrenceville’s Collegium and Community Orchestras performed in the Spring Orchestra Concert at Edith Memorial Chapel. Conducted by Director of Instrumental Studies Keith Roeckle, the ensembles have been rehearsing their pieces weekly since Winter Term. The repertoire for the concert included three movements from Beethoven’s sixth Symphony, performed by the Collegium, and the suite from the movie “Psycho,” performed by the strings section. The Community Orchestra also played suites from “West Side Story” and “Star Wars.”

Roeckle explained that he chooses pieces “based on a few things. One is educational goals we would like the students to meet. The other is where our strengths are, as far as an ensemble.” On his side, as a conductor, Roeckle tries to limit extra tasks and distractions in his life the week before a performance to make sure he is relaxed, focused, and ready to conduct. He additionally expressed gratitude for all of the audience members, saying that “the support is wonderful to see through our concert series in April, and that’s really important to the students. No one wants to play for empty chairs.”

Roeckle’s favorite part of conducting at Lawrenceville is the final product, but he enjoys seeing the progress the students make weekly, too: “Our students really care about a high-quality performance, and that is key. [...] We are a Harkness school, and we are student-driven, so that is good to see”, he said.

Ayesha Middya ’20, who plays the clarinet in the Community Orchestra, agreed with Roeckle’s views on the importance of the students’ being dedicated to giving a high-quality performance. Middya said, “Everyone needs to contribute in order for the orchestra to be successful. […] Everybody is extremely devoted to his or her instrument and willing to work and create beautiful music.”

Middya’s contribution starts with her attendance at rehearsal every Tuesday night from 6:30-8:00 PM, but her preparation continues outside of Clark Music Center when she practises for concerts by practicing individually and with friends in her section. “Since I have no one to tell me to practice, I have drive and my own motivation to help me practice, and that has taught me to be more independent”, she said.

For many, rehearsal time exposes students to the many talented students at Lawrenceville. One performer, Damla Ozdemir ’19, expressed that she developed her understanding of hard work, dedication, and patience through these rehearsals. She also felt that she has benefitted greatly from being able to get to know her fellow musicians at Lawrenceville and form close relationships with them through a common interest. Ozdemir, a violinist for Collegium and Community Orchestra, said, “When I came to Lawrenceville, I wanted to be a part of Collegium because music has been such a big part of my life. I can now enjoy music through a communal experience with some of my closest friends.”

Jasmine Zhang ’20, another violinist for Collegium and Community Orchestra, also enjoys getting to know others with a common passion for music across each form, people whom she might not interact with often: “The most fun part of playing in Lawrenceville’s Community and Collegium is getting together as a group and having something in common that everyone can share and talk about. This has helped me form many close friendships with people I probably wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for Orchestra.”

Though this is the last performance of the season, the student artists will continue to practice with a high degree of professionalism and discipline.