Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

UT University Orchestra prepares for first concert

Eva Asfahani
The University Orchestra and their conductor practicing on Sept. 26, 2023 in preparation for their upcoming recital.

Goosebumps form when the music begins. Room 2.118 in the Music Building and Recital Hall comes alive as each musician moves in a synchronized motion for the UT University Orchestra’s first concert of the year on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Bates Recital Hall. 

With students of all different majors and years, UTUO stands as an inclusive environment for those looking to participate in an orchestral group. 

“UTUO is unique because it’s one of the few places on campus where you will find non-music majors playing music at a high level and taking it seriously,” violinist Joyce Zhuang said. “A lot of the members are grateful to have an outing to express their musical interests while still being able to pursue their academic career.”

The concert showcased two pieces: Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia” conducted by the co-director of the University Orchestra Ke-Yuan Hsin and Vasily Kalinnikov’s “Symphony No. 1 in G Minor” conducted by the co-director of the University Orchestra Gabriela Mora-Fallas and assistant conductor Zongheng Zhang.

Zhuang, a biochemistry Plan II senior, said the opener piece, “Finlandia,” proves a great introduction to what symphonic music means. 

“Sebelius wrote this as a national anthem for the people of Finland,” Zhuang said. “It’s a very patriotic piece, and yet interspersed throughout the piece are moments of beauty, which reflect both the landscape of that country and the people.” 

For those who love music from the Romantic period, Mora-Fallas said the second piece, “Symphony No. 1 in G Minor,” offers an opportunity to get to know work from a lesser-known Russian composer. 

“This Kalinnikov piece is a first for many of us,” Mora-Fallas said. “It will be a great opportunity to approach Russian romantic music. People will enjoy (it).”

The orchestra rehearsed for one month before the recital, Zhaung said. With limited rehearsal time and an intricate piece, Zhuang expressed the nerves of performing. 

“The piece that we’re working on by Kalinnikov is difficult, so I’m a little nervous,” Zhuang said. “But it’s a healthy (type of) nervous before you go into any big performance that is challenging but rewarding.” 

A typical orchestral concert incorporates only one conductor; however, UTUO performs under three. Hsin said the ensemble adjusts well to this circumstance. 

“It’s hard to tell whether players can get the music idea right away, and in this orchestra, it’s hard because we have three conductors,” Hsin said. “So I was appreciative because players (feel) a difference between us (conductors).” 

In addition to balancing multiple conductors, Mora-Fallas said motivating the orchestra during rehearsal season proves vital to the overall performance.

“Every time they hold their instruments here, it’s because they want to do it better,” Mora-Fallas said. “So we want to motivate them and make the work environment as special and inspirational as possible. It’s not only about the music.” 

In the end, the hard work pays off, according to Mora, who believes in the magic of the performance. 

“Once you experience this magic, you will become a fan,” Mora-Fallas said. “Prepare yourself to let the music get to you and your imagination. That’s the true magic of music and the true magic of this orchestra.”  

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed the first quote to “assistant conductor Zongheng Zhang” and has been corrected to “violinist Joyce Zhuang.” The Texan regrets this error. 

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