Education, Entertainment a Balancing Act in Concerts

Sometimes, striking the right chord between education and entertainment can be a challenge. For UT Arlington conductors, it’s all in a day’s work.

Dr. Douglas Stotter is conductor for the 55-member UTA Wind Symphony while Dr. Clifton Evans helms the 65-member UTA Symphony Orchestra. Both men agree education done right is the most entertaining of all.

“The music we play, if we do it the right way, is entertaining,” said Clifton, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Music and has conducted the university’s orchestra for four years. “Our educational process is to teach students to approach a symphonic piece the right way. We work on the music, get the rough edges off and present it in as polished a way as we can.”

Both bands present their final concerts of 2010 during the first week of December. The UTA Wind Symphony and Symphonic Band concert will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, in Irons Recital Hall; the Symphony Orchestra will take the same stage on at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4.

Stotter said there’s a lot most audiences never see that goes into the rehearsals and one-on-one instructions leading up to the performances.

“There are educational things we do for our students, teaching them about music,” he said. “Not just how to play, but how to respond and be artistic and a performer. But that educational process needs closure. So a concert is a way to provide closure.”

In his six years of conducting at UT Arlington, Stotter, Associate Professor of Music, has approached each concert focused on which works he feels his students should know, rather than what they want to play or what he thinks the audience might want to hear.

“There’s education consideration for the music, what students at this age and technically ability should be exposed to,” he said. “In band, there’s a growing set of standard literature and our students need to be exposed to that. There’s also a lot of new music being written … and we’re looking to do those types of pieces as well.”

But that’s not to say the performance and interest of the audience isn’t considered as well.

“You want to reach the audience aesthetically,” Stotter said. “You want something that will make them think or reach them on an emotional level.”

And with the immense volume of music available from which to choose, every performance is as unique as the last.

“There’s so much music out there,” said Evans, “that the students need to experience as many styles and cornerstones of the repertoire as they can.”

The UTA Wind Symphony and Symphonic Band perform three concerts a semester. Shows for next year have already been planned for Feb. 17, March 3, April 7 and May 1.

The UTA Symphony Orchestra averages two performances a semester. In Spring 2011, shows will be held Feb. 24, March 7 and April 28.

On April 25, 2011, UT Arlington’s four premier ensembles (Wind Symphony, Orchestra, Jazz Orchestra and A Cappella Choir) will be performing at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas for a scholarship benefit concert.

[Story by James Dunning, COLA Communications]

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