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Augustana Symphony Orchestra

christmas at augustana

Conductor: Daniel Chetel

Rehearsals: Mondays and Thursdays, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

The Augustana Symphony Orchestra is a full-size symphonic orchestra of 70-80 members that has an active and diverse performing schedule throughout the year.

dr. daniel chetel
Dr. Daniel Chetel conducts the Augustana Symphony Orchestra

The orchestra provides a positive musical and social experience, while producing music at the highest level possible. Rehearsals are upbeat and fun, and the repertoire is both varied and challenging.

The orchestra typically performs two major programs each semester. Additional activities include hosting a student concert competition, reading student orchestral compositions, working with student conductors, and an annual performance tour.

In addition, students may participate in the Augustana Chamber Orchestra, which will collaborates on staged productions with the OperX Ensemble, and learns additional repertoire.

Auditions, fall 2020

Auditions will be held virtally. See How to audition for orchestra, fall 2020.

The music, and overarching questions for the fall

The fall 2020 semester’s orchestra experience will ask students to engage with one of the symphonic orchestra’s core texts — Ludwig van Beethoven’s nine symphonies—and connect this canon to a more diverse, inclusive, and relevant vision of the orchestral repertory of today. 

Beethoven’s nine symphonies were revolutionary for their time, breaking all kinds of  traditions and boundaries established by the formalisms of the Classical Era. What began with a Haydn-ish Symphony No. 1, firmly rooted in his teacher’s Classical traditions, ended with the genre-bending Symphony No. 9 which would become a model for symphonic composers for generations. 

While there is no question that these early 19th-century works represent an unavoidable part of the repertoire — could we envision Western storytelling without The Aeneid or The Odyssey or the English language with the plays of William Shakespeare? — the focus on Beethoven’s music as a role model has been a part of the historical and sometimes problematic nature of the orchestral field as a whole. 

In this semester, we will have the opportunity to engage with these nine works; to listen to them, learn to read and analyze them, and mine them for the revolutionary elements that made them such dramatic works in their own time. We’ll then have the opportunity to explore the vastness of the contemporary orchestral repertoire available to us and draw meaningful and creative connections between Beethoven’s symphonies and works written by composers who may not represent the European, male-centric, white canon that dominates our understanding of symphonic music.

In-person orchestra rehearsals will begin to address these ideas by engaging the following repertoire: 

MARY WATKINS Soul of Remembrance
GEORGE WALKER Lyric for Strings
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 1 in C Major. 

This repertoire will help us start these discussions through the exploration of Beethoven’s first symphonic offering alongside two works by African American composers. 

George Walker (1922-2018) was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize in Music and his haunting Lyric for strings is one of his most accessible works. 

Living composer and arranger Mary Watkins has been involved in championing music of the African Diaspora for years and she is currently writing an opera based on the life of Emmet Till, a 14-year-old black child who was brutally lynched in 1955 in Mississippi. Her Soul of Remembrance is an orchestration of the second movement of her Five Movements in Color.

In-person orchestra also may include explorations into the historical and cultural contexts of these works through reading, listening, and writing assignments along with lecture and discussion.

Any required online, synchronous activities will take place during the traditional schedule of the orchestra program (Monday-Thursday, 7:30-9:30 p.m.) and may replace individual in-person rehearsal sessions.

Contacts

Contact any of the following people for more information about the orchestra and string programs at Augustana:

Daniel Chetel, director of orchestral activities

Susan Stone, violin

Deborah Dakin, viola/violin

Janina Ehrlich, cello

Patricia Aparecida da Silva, double bass

Erin Freund, harp

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Faculty recital

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