The UNF Concert Orchestra performed a Bach-inspired concert Tuesday night in the Andrew Robinson theater, worthy of a glowing review from their conductor Dr. Simon Shiao.
“Bach is something that doesn’t get touched on too much, but it’s a very nice thing to have under your belt because there are very specific gigs that you may not get called for if you’ve never played it before, so it’s nice to get to play it in college,” senior music major and trumpet player Ryan DaBrusco said.
As the start time of the performance slowly approached, seats started to quickly fill. A cacophony of violins and various strings instruments warmed up back stage to play a program of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and Orchestral Suites.
Also included on the program was Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, and Alan Shulman’s Rendezvous for Clarinet and String Orchestra, featuring Dr. Sunshine Simmons, the assistant professor of clarinet.
The lights dimmed and the voices of the crowd became silent. The UNF Concert Orchestra took the stage and began to play, but not before a welcoming applause.
Sophomore exercise science major and violinist Jenna Meyers-Sinnett said playing in front of a crowd of people is “nerve racking,” but it’s “a thrilling experience being able to share it with other people.”
Dr. Shiao said what every musician wants to hear about their performance—that it’s almost at a professional level.
“They treat every concert as if it’s Carnegie Hall, so when you prepare as if it’s Carnegie Hall then eventually when you get to Carnegie Hall there’s no ‘Oh, this is the big one,’” Shiao said.
After Shiao’s endearing comment about his students, it became apparent that the preparation had a lot to do with the outcome of their stellar performance.
“There’s challenges that you face while performing that you don’t face in the practice room, so every time you perform you become a better player,” music major and violist Nickie Whaley said.
At the end of the performance, the lights came up and the entire ensemble bowed to a roaring crowd, and Dr. Shiao gave one last speech before the audience.
Dr. Shiao is leading a study abroad program that will allow the orchestra to spend 17 days in Taipei, Taiwan where they will have joint-orchestrated concerts and classes. They will be housing at one of the most prestigious universities in Taipei, Shih Chien University. The orchestra is currently accepting donations to help support this endeavor.
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