On the third floor of the Maggie Benston Centre, when the day is nearing its end and many people have headed home after a busy day of school, you may hear the faint echoes of an orchestra playing. “There’s a [musical] presence on the Burnaby campus — other than the pipe band!” says orchestra co-president Kristen McLaughlin.
The SFU Concert Orchestra, founded in 2007 by Jerry Yon and George Chung, is a student-run club on the Burnaby campus. The club was started as the SFU Chamber Orchestra, but as it expanded, the name changed to adapt to the additional members and instruments. Yon and Chung founded the club to fulfill the lack of musical groups on the campus.
The current co-presidents Adrienne Mariano and Kristen McLaughlin, and vice president Nathalie Scott-Hsiung, look back at their past three years with pride and delight when they talk of their fellow musicians, whom they have witnessed transform before their eyes, often in the course of one semester.
Today, the orchestra averages at about 30 to 40 members each semester. Mariano notes that when she first joined, the audition process was an intimidating hurdle, one she attributes to the group’s smaller size years ago. “If it would have scared us away, it would have others as well.” Now, instead of an audition, any musicians with some experience looking to join can sign up at Clubs Days at the start of the fall or spring semesters.
With so many diverse members, it’s interesting to note that none of them are going to school for music studies. Each person comes from different backgrounds, with different majors and hobbies, yet they have one thing in common: the drive and the commitment to make the orchestra better and more enjoyable each year.
Any musicians with some experience looking to join can sign up at Clubs Days at the start of the fall or spring semesters.
The SFU Concert Orchestra would not be the growing club that it now is without the hard work and talent of its members. Many use the club as an opportunity to grow a childhood passion, while others perform in this orchestra as well as youth orchestras in the Metro Vancouver area, and SFU’s various other music groups and clubs.
Each semester the orchestra holds a concert at the SFU Burnaby theatre. This spring’s concert will take place on March 29 at 7:00 p.m. Each semester the concert is named after a favourite piece in the show, resulting in this semester’s title: The Sound of Music. The concert will feature Celtic and classical music, and the presidents say that “the audience will get a bit of everything.” The show will also feature sectional showcases of some of the musicians.
Additionally, the orchestra will be performing at the Burnaby Rotary Club’s Wine and Music Festival in the heart of Loughheed Mall on April 26.
The SFU Concert Orchestra is optimistic about the future: “In our three years, we’ve seen it grow slowly but surely every year,” says Scott-Hsiung. As the school’s awareness of the club grows, they intend to continue growing as a group, and develop their personal musical talents.