Q&A: CSU Concert Orchestra concert this Saturday

Hunter Goddard

Pluto String Quartet (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Clary, UCA Marketing Director)

Spring break is still a week away, and many students are travelling during their week off, but this weekend will be an opportunity for you to experience another culture from the comfort of our campus.

The CSU Concert Orchestra is performing “From the Other Side of the Pond,” a collection of pieces by British composers such as Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Percy Grainger. The production will take place Saturday at 2 p.m. in the UCA’s Organ Recital Hall.


The concert is free and open to the public.

Graduate Assistant Conductor Noelle Bauman is leading the second orchestra in the balcony, and CSU Professor Leslie Stewart is conducting the first on stage. According to Bauman, the challenge is getting her orchestra to follow her at the same time as she follows Stewart.

“Separating the two orchestras gives an angelic feel to the pieces,” Bauman said. “You feel lifted up by the different directions of the sounds. My first time conducting while following Professor Stewart was difficult, but I love working with her because she has a passion for the audience.”

As for Stewart herself, she is the director of string pedagogy at CSU as well as the director of CSU’s summer Master of Music Education degree program with a specialization in conducting. The Collegian sat down with her to discuss the show.

How is this show different from anything else you’ve ever worked on?

It includes a collaboration with several string players from the CSU Symphony. They will form Orchestra II in the balcony of the Organ Recital Hall on the Vaughan Williams ‘Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis.’ … Also, the soloists for this piece are all principal players in the CSU Symphony and members of the Pluto Graduate String Quartet.

What can audiences expect to take away from the experience of coming to see it?

The program will start with a short piece by Elgar, which includes parts for organ and harp. CSU owns one of the finest organs in the state of Colorado, and it is always a pleasure for audiences to hear it. … The entire program features beautiful, lush string music by English composers. It will also be quite short (less than an hour, with no intermission).

What have you taken away from the experience of putting it all together?

All three pieces have their challenges for both conductor and orchestra. The second piece, ‘Brook Green Suite’ by Holst, will be led by our student conductor, Crystal Pelham. It has been a great experience for this senior music education major to teach a work to our ensemble that she is likely to do in her future career as a high school orchestra director. … Orchestra II for the Vaughan Williams is being led by Noelle Bauman, the graduate student conductor for the CSU Symphony. It is particularly challenging to conduct an ensemble from so far away from the one on stage and still be in sync.


What do you envision the future to be for Concert Orchestra and the music department?

I believe the Concert Orchestra has potential to be a much larger ensemble once CSU students find out they can play in an non-auditioned orchestra, which only meets twice a week and performs twice a semester.

Collegian A&E Writer Hunter Goddard can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on twitter @hunter_gaga.