Students conducting orchestra seize opportunities

Shauna Carter

Two students of the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music put their conducting skills to the test at the Student Conductors Concert last Friday.

Lisa Muth, a graduate conducting student, and Mason Smith, a senior music education major, talked on their experience as student conductors.

Muth said being a conductor is a way to develop as a musician.

“I play a lot of different instruments, and I have always been really fascinated with getting up there and trying to make other people try to create the music that I feel, “ Muth said. “I show them the music from what I am feeling, and then hopefully, they can pick that up.”

Muth said classical music has always been her type. She started playing piano at the age of 3. However, orchestra is something she is not particularly familiar with.

“It was a lot of studying,” Muth said, “sitting there and looking at this music and going, ‘OK, what is the composer trying to say here?’”

Muth’s music piece, “Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor” by Max Bruch, contained a soloist violinist, Andrew Sords.

“A lot of the process was collaboration with (Sords),” Muth said. “I had to learn what he was going to do, so that I could show (the rest of the orchestra) what he was going to do. I had to interpret what he was doing so the orchestra could better stay with him.”

Smith said conducting with an orchestra was enjoyable for him, so he decided to continue with it.

“I (conducted) last semester for the first time with this same chorus,” Smith said. “I was not in my comfort zone because I have never played in the orchestra before. It was one of the most fun things I have ever done. I have decided that it is what I want to do with my life, so I came back.”

Smith’s musical piece was “Semiramide: Overture” by Gioacchino Rossini. He said the process of conducting is more than just taking a piece of music and simply conducting it. There is a process to it, especially with classical music.

“(The piece) is a group effort and not at all straightforward,” Smith said. “There is a lot of individual taste that you have to put into it. Especially in older music where it is not as clear-cut what you are doing because they didn’t give you straight instructions in the score.”

Smith said the challenge comes during practice with the entire orchestra.

“The hardest (part)? Probably the initial rehearsal and me still learning how to fix problems and how to be very insistent on what I want. It is the biggest part of a conductor during rehearsal,” Smith said. “Standing on stage isn’t too much. All the stuff we do the week prior to rehearsal is fire and that is what I am learning right now.”

Contact Shauna Carter at [email protected].