Encore Fall 2014

Chamber Orchestra

Chamber Orchestra Lifting Others Through Music

Driving through a hailstorm on their way to Logatec, Slovenia, lightning flashing all around them, gave BYU’s Chamber Orchestra a taste of the devastating ice storm and subsequent flooding that had ravaged the town only four months earlier. The group toured the affected area the next morning, and the students knew that they were there to lift spirits with their music.In preparation for the evening’s benefit concert, the orchestra met with the mayor of Logatec, who expressed gratitude to the group for raising funds to help the city recover from the January disaster. At the performance that night, a large crowd welcomed the orchestra to the city sports hall. Director Kory Katseanes told them, “Our final number is titled Appalachian Spring. After touring your beautiful city of Logatec on this spring day, I’m convinced that this music could have been called Logatec Spring.” The audience responded with an emotional applause of appreciation.

The BYU Chamber Orchestra tours the Parliament Building in Budapest.

These moments capture the essence of the Chamber Orchestra’s European tour this spring—not only gathering together to make music but to reach out to communities, to help, to share, and to uplift.Zach Kroff, a cello player in the orchestra, had served as a missionary in Slovenia and the surrounding region. “It made me happy to go back,” he says. “The spirit of music was very influential to the people there, and it was a pleasure to be able to contribute to the flood cleanup.”

Massimiliano Frani plays a Mozart piano concerto with the BYU Chamber Orchestra in Venice.

The tour began in Venice, Italy, with some sightseeing around the historic city, after which the orchestra played in a benefit concert at the Dell Angelo Hospital. Not only did patrons raise money by buying tickets but also patients were able to listen to the music through the glass walls in their rooms. One attendee said, “I love that your music is without words because it speaks more to me.”After Italy and Slovenia, the orchestra traveled to Budapest, Hungary, where the group performed in the Liszt Academy Grand Hall for an audience of more than 850. This particular performance was so powerful that Katseanes describes it as “one of those rare musical moments that happens a few times in one’s life.” But again, it wasn’t just musical melody that was present but a sense of service: the generous donations from the benefit concert provided 10 infant-warming units for local Hungarian children’s hospitals. Just one day after the concert, a premature baby became the first beneficiary of one of those units.

Kory Katseanes (left), a nurse, and two orchestra members see the premature baby who was the first beneficiary of the warming units that came from the proceeds of and donations to the Budapest concert.

Turkey was the final destination for the orchestra members, who spent time in Ankara learning about the country’s rich culture. The last concert, sponsored by Istanbul Technical University, was one that Turkish audiences won’t soon forget. “Bravo for a wonderful performance!” said one audience member. “It truly was an enriching experience for all of us who attended. Those we invited thoroughly enjoyed it, and we noticed that many people were hesitant to leave the theater.” The Chamber Orchestra ended the tour on a good note—literally.Some of the greatest moments on tour were when the group performed with local European musicians, including renowned pianists Massimiliano Frani (in Venice), András Kemenes (in Budapest), and Emre Elivar (in Istanbul). In Ankara the orchestra was accompanied by two guest artists: Cihat Aşkın, who performed Mozart pieces on the violin, and Latif Bolat, who sang some of his native Turkish music. Instead of performing with a guest artist in Vicenza, the students got to be conducted by one—Roberto De Maio, who directed the orchestra in an arrangement of a Bach prelude. “It was a model tour for us,” says Katseanes.

After the Vicenza concert Kory Katseanes (second from left) and guest conductor Roberto De Maio (second from right) pose with the two padres in their cathedral.

The orchestra members fulfilled a mission beyond simply playing their instruments. Says violinist Sara Bauman, “Music is such a universal language that we can literally serve people through music.” Kroff also feels the passion of serving through music. “My desires have definitely changed after our tour,” he says. “My desire is to help people.”

""Katseanes described the performance in the Liszt Academy Grand Hall as “one of those rare musical moments that happens a few times in one’s life.” "