Moving an entire orchestra is not an easy task, but the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra has been accomplishing this task since 2001, when the orchestra first began traveling to Fairmont. Since then, the WVSO has been creating a lasting impact on Fairmont State University’s campus and in the community as a result of a very collaborative partnership.
Every year, Fairmont State University hand selects which concerts will be performed on campus. The Colebank Hall gymnasium is transformed to an intimate performance space where the orchestra and audience are in close proximity. The WVSO stage crew arrives early to set up the stage with chairs, stands, music, lights and the larger instruments of the percussion section and pianos when needed. It’s all dependent upon what’s being performed, but the WVSO can require up to two trucks of equipment and instruments and two buses filled with musicians and their instruments.
Dr. Anne Patterson, Professor of Music and Coordinator of the Department of Music, has worked with the WVSO to make the most out of every trip to Fairmont.
“The orchestra’s very active commitment to education is a great match for our own determination to provide the richest experiences possible for all of our students: majors, minors and general studies students. We think of the orchestra as an extension to what we can offer in our small department—the WVSO is, in fact, embedded in our curriculum,” Patterson said.
Before each concert, students in these fine arts classes study the music and are prepped with historical information. Maestro Grant Cooper stays overnight in order to further discuss the music in the classrooms with the students on the day following the public concert.
“My favorite memory from the WVSO happens every semester, when a new group of students discovers our orchestra in live performance. Their response is overwhelmingly positive. They’re often surprised, moved, excited—and always engaged,” Patterson said.
Starting off the 2015-2016 Fairmont Season, the WVSO will be performing “Orchestral Sweets” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 26 in Colebank Hall. The concert begins with “The Birds” by Respighi, which imitates the sounds and behaviors of various birds in each of the movements. Following with the French composer Maurice Ravel, the orchestra will perform “Le Tombeau de Couperin,” composed to memorialize victims of World War I. Woodwinds, harp and piano take the spotlight next in a rare combination for a vibrant performance of Hahn’s “Le Bal de Beatrice d’Este.” Finishing the program is one of Mozart’s most notable works, “Symphony No. 40 in G minor,” which legend maintains was never heard in performance by Mozart himself.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Fairmont State Box office at (304) 367-4240 or at the door on the night of the concert. Reserved seats are $30, general admission seats are $20 and student tickets are $5. FSU and Pierpont Community and Technical College students can gain admission free of charge with a student ID.
On Monday, Oct. 26, Maestro Grant Cooper will be joined by acclaimed musicologist Dr. Michael Baker of the University of Kentucky’s Department of Music for the second Humanities Council lecture this season. The music of Mozart will be the topic of discussion and will take place at 3 p.m. Oct. 26 on the Fairmont State campus in Wallman Hall, Room 236. Admission to the lecture is free and open to the public.
In February 2016, the WVSO will return to perform “John Williams: The Blockbusters.” This performance will include well-known music from movies such as “Harry Potter,” “Jurassic Park,” “Star Wars” and more.