Ryan Mckeel, Staff Writer
A local symphony orchestra with deep roots at Wingate University performed on the evening of April 29, 2017 with a guest artist from the University of South Carolina.
The Union Symphony Orchestra, also known as the USO, and Dr. Jennifer Parker-Harley, associate professor of flute at the University of South Carolina and principal flute of the USO, performed a concert at Wingate University.
The concert, titled Sonica Vista, featured works by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Johannes Brahms, and was free for Wingate University students.
The ensemble’s artistic director and conductor, Richard Rosenberg, arranged Étienne Méhul’s Overture to “La Chasse de Jeune Henri” (Young Henry’s Hunt) and opened the evening with its performance. “That was an amazing performance and a really a beautiful evening! I can’t believe that was free,” said Wingate junior Simone Freeney.
Parker-Harley’s performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s concerto in D minor marked her second performance at Wingate University. “I really enjoyed the flute concerto,” said Wingate junior Tabitha Viola. “It was fun to be exposed to a new kind of music, and she was so talented! It was a delightful concert.”
Many of the performers onstage were Wingate University music professors, including Dr. Dawn Price, Director of Bands.
The orchestra has two pops concerts scheduled for the summer. A pops performance is one that includes popular music and show tunes as well as well-known classical works
Those performances will take place in Monroe, NC, while a Labor Day pops concert will be performed on the Stegall lawn at Wingate University on Labor Day. Pops concerts feature family friendly works that are enjoyable for patrons of all ages.
“The pops concerts are a great time for our community to gather and enjoy some wonderful music,” said Dr. Martha Asti, founding member of the symphony and a Wingate University administrator. Dr. Asti was the group’s organist and harpsichordist during their initial performances.
The USO gave its first performances at Wingate University almost three decades ago. “The Union Symphony Orchestra was founded as a volunteer orchestra at Wingate University in the 1980s,” said Asti.
Dr. Asti has rejoined the symphony’s board. “We are humbled and grateful to have Dr. Asti with us on the board,” said Kim Norwood, a former member of the symphony’s board, now the current executive director.
The ensembles history has always included deep support from the university’s staff and facilities. “We performed in Austin Auditorium, as the Batte Center hadn’t been built yet,” she said. “We took a break around 1990,” said Asti.
In 2004, Wingate University’s current music department chair and director of choral activities, Kenney Potter, took to the podium as the symphony’s artistic director.
Union Symphony incorporated as a 501c3 in 2007. The orchestra now has a youth symphony that is led by Wingate University adjunct professor Sabrina Howard.
The USO has plans to fill the stage with more musicians for their 2017-2018 season. “We have goals for growth,” said Kim Norwood. “We would like to put 68 musicians on stage next season.”
Professor of piano, Dr. David Brooks, will be a featured performer with the symphony this fall.
For more on the Union Symphony Orchestra, visit their website at unionsymphony.org Ryan McKeel is a PR major at Wingate University. Follow him on Instagram @ OatmealMcKeel!
Edited by: Brea Childs