Over 50 Years of Steadfast Strength
From its beginnings as the university’s String Ensemble in 1970, the orchestra later evolved into the Orchestral Chamber Music, before developing into the KU Orchestra. Proud of its long history and solid harmony, the KU Orchestra successfully performed its 46th regular concert last September.
“This year’s concert was really one of our most successful. We achieved magnificent harmonies in our pitches and rhythms, and the sounds were in perfect tune, with no mistakes. We really pulled it off and felt that our actual performance was better than our rehearsals (laughs). We had a large audience. The seats were nearly full. While practicing for the concert, the air conditioner in our practice hall broke down and all members had to struggle and endure the summer heat and hardship together. After the concert was over, many of us got emotional and broke down in tears. I guess we just naturally felt overwhelmed by the moments of all the challenges that we went through during practice. It was difficult to hold back our emotions and tears.”
Kim Min-seok (’17 School of Electrical Engineering), the president of the orchestra, mentioned how this year’s regular concert especially presented an unforgettable, lifelong memory to all members. The overflowing excitement that is felt when coherent sound is created by the harmony of different musical instruments can never be experienced by those who have never been a part of an orchestra. Such excitement is the very reason why people are willing to spare their busy time and join this meaningful harmony.
“Many of us practice almost every week and every day. On Mondays, we practice drama or movie soundtracks that bring us joy and pleasure as a pop orchestra. Wednesdays are for wind instruments, Thursdays are for string instruments, and on Fridays, all of us gather around and practice symphonies. In order to perform in regular concerts that take place twice a year, only those who are qualified as regular members of the orchestra can have the privilege to take part in such events. To become a regular member entitled to play in regular concerts, you need to come to Friday practices at least three times. If you attend for more than five semesters as a regular member, then you qualify as a lifetime member. However, just because you become a regular member does not necessarily mean you can perform in all concerts. If you skip more than four practices, you’ll be disqualified. But there are hardly any members who are ever disqualified during the process. This shows how our members are extremely determined and ready for our performances from the beginning.”
Cho Young-jun (’18 Department of Computer Science and Engineering), who is in charge of general affairs, stated that the orchestra members are dedicated players, showing up religiously to the grueling almost-daily rehearsals and demonstrating their enthusiasm for concerts during the summer and winter breaks.
Managing its members and practicing faithfully with strict standards has led the KU Orchestra to become an orchestra to represent KU for more than half a century. Although they may be amateur musicians, their passion and enthusiasm are far beyond those of any professionals. This passion has led to near full houses at every regular concert.
Placing Value on People over Skills
▲The KU Orchestra together with the Kowoo Orchestra held their 18th regular concert at Inchon Memorial Hall in June.
Since its inception, more than 800 people have been a part of the KU Orchestra. This large-scale amateur orchestra currently boasts over 60 members. In 2005, the KU Orchestra was the first amateur orchestra to perform at the Seoul Arts Center in commemoration of KU’s 100th anniversary. The orchestra also holds an annual concert with the Kowoo Orchestra, which was formed by a group of members from the Graduation Class of 1992. The senior-junior relationship created through solid teamwork with alumni in their fifties has enabled the KU Orchestra to transcend time and see success in every regular concert.
“There are many alumni who have mentioned that they established and maintained good relationships by playing in the orchestra. With members from diverse departments, not only can we have a wide range of networks but can also socialize through good music. We are very grateful to our upperclassmen, who give us great help and support each time we hold a concert. Through this concert, I was fortunate to become acquainted with an alumnus eight years my senior. I am glad that I was able to make good relationships with senior members because these special opportunities are hard to come by in club activities.”
▲Students in the orchestra gather for practice at the Student Union every Friday at 7 pm.
Outside of merely creating good music, being a member of the orchestra seems to foster valuable relationships. In this regard, it would appear that the success of the orchestra lies not just in technical prowess but in members’ firm beliefs in building valuable relationships.
“Other amateur orchestras have auditions based on people’s skills, but that is not how we gather people. The aim of the KU Orchestra is to be open to people who like music and desire to learn with others through harmony and joy. It is okay if you do not own an instrument. We have plenty of instruments which were donated by the public and our generous KU alumni. Anyone who wants to join and learn how to play an instrument is welcome to take lessons. Despite the absence of a music college, we believe that it is through our outstanding skills and passion based upon cherishing everyone who is a part of it that led to the development of the orchestra.”
Gathering people who are fond of classical music and sharing special meanings and memories seems to be one of the greatest prides of the KU Orchestra. Making achievements on the basis of thinking of others before oneself and becoming one through music with great passion are what make the orchestra more solid. This kind of happiness that comes from bringing people together through common interests is something that is not easy to experience during one’s lifetime. The KU Orchestra hopes that people can enjoy such opportunities as often as possible. It is hoped that their passion created by sharing sound and harmonious minds continues to shine in the future.