The talents of student musicians from the UTRGV Brownsville and Edinburg campuses are melding harmoniously under the baton of Maestro Peter Dabrowski, during rehearsals and performances for the University Symphony Orchestra.
“Ever since the opening of UTRGV in August 2015, we have been eager for this milestone, to achieve a dual-campus symphony orchestra comprised solely of student musicians,” said Dabrowski, UTRGV professor of music, who is also the conductor and music director of the 57-member, all-student orchestra.
Vanessa Treviño, a senior music education major from Brownsville, is among the music students who take classes on the Brownsville Campus.
“Last spring, when we heard that the orchestra was merging into one, I was very excited and jumped at the opportunity to audition in the fall,” said Treviño, a bassoonist since the seventh grade. “But my main concerns were how the rehearsals were going to work, and transportation.”
But the Brownsville students’ first journey to the Edinburg Campus was on a special bus, which confirmed to Treviño that she had made the right decision.
“After the first couple of rehearsals, we got into the routine of making the trip twice a week,” she said. “For that hour and a half bus ride, we are able to relax, use the Wi-Fi, study or nap if we want. I’d have to say the only downside is getting home later than usual on those evenings.”
Another concern of Treviño’s was the unknown of joining a group that had, in most cases, already developed a “chemistry.”
“I had never been to the Edinburg Campus before,” she said. “So naturally, I was nervous about how the first rehearsal was going to go. I was excited, however, to finally be in an orchestra with Dr. Dabrowski.”
Treviño already knew several of the Edinburg music students because they competed together in the All-Valley process in high school, and she connected with a few of the woodwind students over the summer on social media.
“The Edinburg students and Dr. Dabrowski were very welcoming of us and made us feel right at home,” she said. “After the first rehearsal, I knew this was going to be a great experience – not only for me, but for everyone – to be a part of a full orchestra for the first time comprised of all students.”
Misael Luna, a fellow music education major who attends classes on the Edinburg Campus, said he and everyone in Edinburg looked positively on the combined orchestra.
“I have played in a full orchestra before – although that included some professionals filling in where we were lacking in students – so I did not feel a great change in the musical aspect,” said Luna, a native of Reynosa, Mexico, who has been playing cello for nine years. “Mainly, for me, it feels really good to know that people are coming from another campus to play music.”
Dr. Steven Block, dean of the UTRGV College of Fine Arts, explained the importance of having students experience being a part of a full symphonic orchestra.
“Working in ensembles is important, certainly, yet there is really no substitute for playing in a full orchestra,” he said. “Our students should not exit their college career without being involved in an orchestra – to practice together, to learn and share as a large group, all contributing their expertise under the guidance of the conductor. It’s invaluable in a musician’s development.”
The first performances – extremely successful, by all accounts, with both halls filled – that combined students from both campuses were in October. There were two shows, one Oct. 10 at the TSC Arts Centerin Brownsville, and another Oct. 11 on the Edinburg Campus at thePerforming Arts Complex.
Both Treviño and Luna said those inaugural performances were special, not only for the musicians, but also for the audiences; the finale, which prompted standing ovations at both venues, was George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” featuring Dr. Dino Mulić, UTRGV music lecturer, on the Steinway grand piano.
The next performances of the University Symphony Orchestra will be on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at the Edinburg Campus Performing Arts Complex, and on Monday, Nov. 28, in the TSC Arts Center in Brownsville.
Both performances are at 7:30 p.m.
General admission is $5. There is no charge for Patron of the Arts subscribers.
For more information, contact Patron of the Arts at 956-882-7025.