On Thursday, Nov. 10, Ruth Lilly Performance Hall welcomed not only the University of Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, but also the Martinsville High School Symphony Orchestra in a Veterans Day tribute performance.
This was led by Assistant Professor of Music Education Laurie Williams, who has been teaching music for 32 years. She worked on this project with the director of the Martinsville High School Symphony Orchestra Racheal Lanigan. Williams said that the two have had this project in the works for months and began working on the details in August.
Lanigan said to prepare for the concert, the Martinsville Orchestra students were brought onto UIndy’s campus for a full day of experience. According to Lanigan, the students rehearsed their music, ate in the Schwitzer Student Center cafeteria, received a tour of the student center, saw a dorm room and saw behind the stage and the sound booth of the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall.
“The kids really connected with the university. Some of the parents were telling me they’re going to get stickers for their car, they already want their kids to go there,” Lanigan said.
According to Williams, she wanted to include a high school orchestra in this performance not only for the benefit of the younger students, but also to benefit the UIndy orchestra students as well. Williams explained that it is important not only for younger students to get the opportunity to learn from more experienced players, but also for the older students to gain experience. She described it as a cooperative effort.
“Our University’s motto is ‘education for service.’ So if that’s our mission, to serve the community, what better way can we serve the community than by actually collaborating with them on musical performances, bringing them onto our campus, going to their schools and doing things for them,” Williams said.
A challenge that the two orchestras faced while preparing for this performance was having enough time. Both Williams and Lanigan talked about struggling to meet and rehearse, and needing to put trust in each other that they will practice on their own.
Williams said the music picked out for the concert was chosen to honor veterans and highlight nationalism not only in the United States, but around the world as well. A few of the pieces she mentioned were performed include the ‘Radetzky March,’ ‘Prayer for Peace’ and the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’
“I really like to do concerts that are gonna give my students an opportunity to play music that I can use as a vehicle for teaching about the history of the music and the purpose for it, so I chose a veterans concert theme because there’s a lot to teach in music about nationalism” Williams said.
According to Williams, her students were most excited to perform for a full hall and have their hard work recognized. The students in the Martinsville Symphony Orchestra were able to work on pieces outside of their comfort zone, Lanigan said.
“Technically the music pushed their skill level, but they learned a lot more about what the music was outside of the notes and rhythms and expressiveness. They also learned about the history and the culture and our world around us,” Lanigan said.
Williams said that anyone on campus who plays an instrument is welcome to come and play with the orchestra. She said you do not need to be a music major to participate in the program, as many people currently in the program are not, and she would love to welcome more non-music majors.
“At the audition [to join], I don’t want anybody to be really nervous about it, it’s pretty informal. They would just come in at this point and they would just play for me. And that way it helps me to just know where they’re at playing wise, and it’s more so I can know where to put them in the section,” Williams said. If any student is interested in joining the orchestra, Williams can be contacted through her email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The next orchestra concert takes place Dec. 9 and 11, which Williams describes as the big Christmas concert with band, orchestra and choir combined.