LCSO Concertmaster on Performing at Luther

"Know the Score" is the official blog of the Luther College Music Department. Students, faculty, and staff provide content on music tours, concerts, recitals and scholarship happening on and away from Luther's Decorah, Iowa campus.

As I reflected on today’s symphony fall concert and thought about what I wanted to write, it seemed obvious to me what I should talk about. As a transfer student, I have experienced two other music school environments previous to entering the doors of Jenson. I came to Luther second semester of my sophomore year, and I am relieved that I made that choice. The atmosphere at Luther has been refreshing and supportive, with programs that are growing and evolving. This is my first time being in orchestra at Luther because when I arrived I joined Cathedral Choir and last year sang in Nordic choir. In each ensemble I have been a part of, it is easy to see that Luther musicians are hard working, compassionate and eager to learn. Students always seem willing to put in the time required to keep Luther’s music programs alive.

We, as an orchestra, put forth effort from the start of the school year in September until now for the concert we presented this afternoon in the CFL. That is a lot of hours, many sectionals, and a great deal of wise words from Dr. Baldwin within these past few months. Dr. Baldwin always encourages us to put care into each note, making sure that we don’t just play the music to get by. We did our best to understand the meaning behind the notes in addition to striving for musical excellence during every rehearsal. That is the difference I’ve noticed the most between Luther and my previous schools.          

At conservatories, the symphonies are at a high level, plain and simple. This gives the conductor the ability to whip through difficult repertoire quickly and then move on after a concert, somewhat as a routine. When I was a student in these orchestras, I remember always feeling like symphony concerts were another thing on my to-do list for the week rather than an “event.”  The music we were making always sounded impressive, but there wasn’t too much care put into each performance. We would arrive, warm up onstage, play and then leave as soon as it was finished (usually to go snag a practice room to get those extra hours of practice in). Our conductor would generally meet us onstage and not chat with us before the concert. Actually I’m still convinced that the conductors didn’t know my name.

Here at Luther we are extremely fortunate to have someone leading our orchestra who genuinely cares about everyone in it. That is a rare find. Unlike my previous schools, I feel that concerts at Luther are enjoyable! We have senior talks beforehand, Dr. Baldwin gives encouraging words to us and we have rituals that are exchanged before we go onstage. There is so much care that goes into a concert here, and therefore it really felt like a grand event. I’m happy that I’m at a place that is full of community and support.

Our fall concert really was a celebration of our hard work. I hope the audience felt like they were celebrating right along with us.

Luther College Symphony Orchestra in concert