Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College

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Harmonic convergence

Orchestra brings together musicians from the college and surrounding communities

The power of collaboration between Wheaton College and the surrounding communities will be on full display Sunday, when the Great Woods Symphony Orchestra takes the stage for its final concert of the year.

The orchestra will present its spring concert on Sunday, May 7, at 4 p.m., in the Watson Fine Arts Center's Weber Theatre.

The concert marks the completion of the group’s first year as a full-sized orchestra—a rare ensemble for a liberal arts college like Wheaton to boast and one that is possible only through the institution’s partnership with local residents, according to Delvyn Case, associate professor of music at Wheaton and director of the orchestra.

“The community members have been invaluable, and their presence has made it possible to perform music that we could not have done with a smaller ensemble. For example: we are doing Dvorak's famous ‘New World Symphony’ this spring, which features a full brass section: four French horns, three trumpets, three trombones and a tuba. Of those 11 musicians, only three are Wheaton students.”

Overall, 20 members of the 70-plus musicians who play in the orchestra are local residents—from middle school and high school students and public school teachers to parents and retirees.

“The variety is a real testament to the power of community music-making. I'm so gratified that Wheaton can provide opportunities for so many different people to play together,” Case said.

Overall, the concert will celebrate the diversity of music from the “New World.” The performance will feature virtuoso trombonist Achilles Liarmakopoulos, a member of the Grammy-winning Canadian Brass, who will perform orchestral tangos by Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla.

The group also will premiere a new orchestral piece composed by Wheaton senior Sophia Darby, “When I Close My Eyes,” and perform an arrangement of the spiritual, “Deep River,” based on an arrangement by Harry T. Burleigh, one of the country’s most prominent African-American musicians and a former student of Dvorak.