On the night of Sept. 25, Andrea Peterson walked onto the stage. With a bow, she turned to her orchestra and mounted the conductor’s stand. Poised for their performance, bows at the ready, the Bountiful High School Orchestra began to play.

The Weber State University Symphony Orchestra combined with the Bountiful High School Orchestra to kick off the 2011-12 symphony orchestra concert year. Peterson, orchestra director at Bountiful High School, led her students through the first piece of the evening, The Simple Symphony by Benjamin Britten. Their performance was followed by the WSU Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Palumbo, WSU’s director of orchestral studies.

Moriah Wilhelm has been concertmaster (the first violinist in a symphony orchestra) of the WSU Symphony Orchestra for a year and a half. According to her, Sunday’s performance was a great chance to learn.

“We have always welcomed and enjoyed working with upcoming players,” Wilhelm said. “The Bountiful High students all seemed very excited to perform on the Austad stage, and they performed very well.”

For the final piece, the two orchestras filled the stage with 100 string players.

“The combined orchestras gave us a very large-feeling experience,” Wilhelm said. “Since the university orchestra typically has around 50 members, it was quite different to double those numbers, giving the performance a new energy. Success in a performance is absolutely exhilarating!”

Jordana Galvez, WSU’s harpist, began playing for the orchestra this year.

“Beginning the first week of classes, the orchestra sight-read their pieces all together,” Galvez said. “After many hours of individual study and practice on their specific instrument, we spent about five to six hours a week rehearsing and preparing for our performance as an orchestra. It was a neat experience to perform with Bountiful High.”

Liz Borg, a WSU student, attended Sunday’s performance, and said she enjoyed the variety of music she heard.

“I play the violin, and have been in and out of orchestra since fourth grade,” Borg said. “I haven’t heard most of the selections that were played, and it was nice to hear something new and different.”

The variety of music included Adagio for Strings and Fantasia on “Greensleeves.” Through this concert year, Palumbo said he hopes to provide a wide variety of music to satisfy everyone. Like his students, Wilhelm and Galvez, Palumbo said he enjoyed combining the two orchestras. He gave credit to the students for the performance’s success.

“I have always felt that I have a great job, being able to work with such a talented group of students,” Palumbo said. “They are a true pleasure in my life.”

WSU Performing Arts has worked extensively with local high schools. Palumbo said he values the experience for his own students.

“The Bountiful High Orchestra is a very talented group of students,” Palumbo said. “Their teacher, Andrea Peterson, was one of our outstanding music education students when she was here.”

Peterson, who began playing violin in the sixth grade, graduated from WSU’s music education program, and also played in the WSU Symphony Orchestra during her time as a student.

“Dr. Palumbo is a fantastic conductor and musician,” Peterson said. “I learned everything I know from him. It was a privilege and an honor to be asked to come with my own group and perform at a concert.”

For the finale, the two orchestras combined and performed Armenian Rhapsody No. 3. Peterson conducted the final piece.

“It was intimidating for the first few seconds,” she said, “but then I was able to relax and have fun. There is something magical about standing up in front of 100 string players and feeling the power of all that musical sound and vibration! It was an incredible experience.”

Information on future performances is available at the Val A. Browning Center’s website, www.browningcenter.org.

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