Symphony orchestra makes the most of an unusual time

UVU's symphony orchestra performed in front of an in-person and virtual audience on Thursday, Nov. 19. Illustration by Riley Andersen.

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Story by Jordan Needs, Staff Writer

The UVU Symphony Orchestra Fall Concert was as grand a spectacle as can be had in the midst of a one-hundred year pandemic: black tie-clad young men and women performing for a sharply dressed crowd all wearing masks. No precaution had been overlooked, the UVU Symphony Orchestra’s second — and last — concert of the fall semester. The usual social distancing, mask wearing and sanitizing practices were in effect for all guests, and the organizers and staff at the Noorda Center for the Performing Arts went above and beyond in their preparation. Digital programs were available to limit contact and special UV air filtration had been implemented within the theatre to make the environment cleaner for performers and patrons. 

The music itself was equally impressive; Brahms’ Fourth Symphony, originally penned in the year 1884, performed with the grace fitting of a piece that age. It was soft and delicate, the four movements playing out and unfolding as though a living body of music danced into life with passion and romance. The finale was powerful and provided all the drama expected of the Brahms composition. The crowd in attendance offered their thanks for a beautiful night of music, and those watching via online stream were equally grateful for their wonderful performance.

Conducted by Dr. Cheung Chau, associate professor of music at UVU, the concert was led with surgical precision. Chau has conducted numerous symphony orchestras in eastern Europe and China, where he conducted the China National Symphony in addition to being an assistant conductor at the Hong Kong philharmonic. Chau received the first double doctorate degree in the history of the New England Conservatory in wind ensemble conducting and cello and he studied orchestral and choral conducting at the Royal Swedish Conservatory.

The UVU Symphony Orchestra was not immune to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. All spring concerts were called off and members of the orchestra were thrilled to be able to offer their music once again. Cellist Kaitlin Grey and violinists Joseph Aguilar & Landon Rawcliffe were happy with their opportunity to do what they do best. 

“We’re just super grateful to the UVU Music Department for setting everything up and letting us play, it’s so nice to be able to do this even with everything going on,” said Rawcliffe. 

“They really did a lot, with the precautions, to make it so we could play tonight and we all really appreciate that,” said Grey.

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