Standing in the Bell Tower Plaza, seven students wait, holding instruments. More students with instruments are scattered around the plaza, some
standing by the bell tower, others sitting on the stairs. When the bell tower rings at 2:30 p.m., the students in the center of the plaza start playing. As the music progresses, more of the students walk to the center of the plaza with their instruments and join in.
On Wednesday, the Weber State University Symphony Orchestra held a surprise performance.
“We saw them around and knew something was going to happen,” said physics major Andrew Browning, who was sitting in the plaza when the orchestra started playing. “I liked it; it was spontaneous and cool. String-instrument people don’t usually do things like that. They should do spontaneous things all the time.”
The idea first came from a video of an orchestra flash mob that was posted on the orchestra’s Facebook page over the summer. Courtney Ellis, a violinist, commented on the video and told her orchestra professor, Michael Palumbo, about it. Palumbo then decided it would be a good idea and a great way to advertise the orchestra’s concert on Sunday.
“I thought we were just kidding,” said Ellis about the initial idea. Ellis is a communications major and music minor who has been playing for 17 years.
The orchestra played one song called “Hoedown” by Aaron Copland.
“I love that kind of western music,” said English major Kiera Gardiner, another student who saw the performance. “I liked it quite a bit.”
As the orchestra performed, people gathered around and many pulled out their phones to record the performance. Once the performance was finished, the orchestra immediately left the plaza.
“Everyone was definitely excited, more excited than for a normal performance,” said cellist and accounting major Mitch Jenkins about the orchestra.
Jenkins has been playing the cello for 16 years and has been with the orchestra for three. He said playing outside was more of a challenge than playing inside because it was harder to hear all the other instruments.
“I don’t think any of us were super nervous,” Ellis said. She said the only thing she was nervous about was playing outside. She also said she thought it went really well, but wished there was more traffic at the plaza. The orchestra chose to perform at that time because it was the only time all the members were available.
Ellis said she didn’t know if the orchestra will do another flash mob in the future.
“I hope so; it was really successful,” she said. “People were asking us if we were doing it again.” She said the problem would be if the orchestra did it too often and it became routine.
The WSU Symphony Orchestra usually has concerts twice a semester. “Hoedown” will be performed in the orchestra’s upcoming concert on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. The concert will feature songs that progress over the past 50 years of composing: The performance will start with classical music and end with a piece written last year.