University of Delaware symphony orchestra
Sarah's Spotlight Column
Published: Monday, September 2, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 2, 2013 18:09
I’ve always found summer to be a time for exploration. Traveling to new places, seeing new bands and working new jobs have marked my summers. While you were gone, the university also promoted summer exploration through study abroad trips and the Summer Scholars Undergraduate Research Program.
This week, my performing arts spotlight shines on the University of Delaware Symphony Orchestra. Sixty-eight members of the UDSO embarked on the ensemble’s first international tour from May 28 to June 3. Ensemble members rehearsed, partnered and performed with 50 musicians from Central University and Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia. The trip to Bogotá, Colombia was funded by the Institute for Global Studies and faculty and staff in music and the College of Arts and Sciences, according to UDaily.
This collaborative journey provided UDSO members with a new cultural experience and reminded them there is more to music than hitting the right notes and executing the right rhythms. While precision is extremely important—only the top undergraduate and graduate students of the Department of Music are involved—this trip added another level of depth to the ensemble. UDSO presents five to six concerts a year, but this summer’s Colombian adventure was one for the books.
Though this was UDSO’s first international journey, other university ensembles have ventured abroad. Most recently, UD Chorale and UD-17 choirs toured Europe for three weeks in the summer of 2012. The ensembles were invited to perform at the International Society for Music Education in Thessaloniki, Greece and the Béla Bartók competition in Hungary. Students represented both the university and the United States at the international celebrations of music.
The University of Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hen Marching Band traveled to Ireland with its sister band at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in winter 2009-2010. Nearly 400 students participated in the 10-day tour. They marched in Dublin’s first official New Year’s Day parade and performed in Eyre Square in Galway. Heidi Sarver, director of UDMB, hopes to bring her band on another international excursion in the near future.
I believe music is a great international equalizer. Often there are no words, no foreign language barring understanding. We don’t have to sort concertos into major or minor keys to interpret the emotions behind the movements. Musicians don’t need to speak the same language to play side-by-side, as proven by the UDSO. Consequently, audiences don’t need to speak the same tongue as performers either.
This summer I attended my first opera without truly knowing what I was getting myself into. A friend from high school was cast in Jacques Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” at Hunter College in New York City, and I was eager to support her. She neglected to tell me the opera was sung entirely in French, and it was nearly three hours long. I don’t speak a lick of French, and I tend to get restless very quickly, but, to my surprise, I was utterly captivated by Offenbach from the moment the curtain rose. The singers’ voices rang out with power and poise as the orchestra’s sound filled the theater. I didn’t even notice the supertitles translating nineteenth century French into English until the end of the first act. I laughed at poor Hoffmann’s romantic troubles, but I sympathized with him too. His misfortunes made him so human, and that’s what pulled me in.