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ASU’s orchestras provide high-level training for music majors and minors as well as opportunities for non-music majors to continue playing at the college level.
The ASU orchestra program provides its members with intensive orchestral training and professional level artistic performance experience. Led by Jeffery Meyer, Director of Orchestras, the orchestras perform challenging and diverse repertoire chosen to help emerging professional musicians develop a wide range of skills and aptitudes. Rich concert programming offers audiences and the greater arts community opportunities to engage with major works of the orchestral canon as well as cutting-edge works of our time. Exploring the full creative range of today’s contemporary orchestral ensemble, the ASU Symphony Orchestra and ASU Chamber Orchestra seek to perform canonical works with technical excellence and artistry while also pushing musical boundaries through innovative multi-disciplinary collaborations. In 2016, the Philharmonia was added to the orchestral offerings at ASU and provides its members an engaging and vigorous foundational orchestral experience for both music and non-music majors.
The program aims to extend student learning through rich interactions with professional artists. ASU faculty are closely involved with their students’ orchestral experience and regularly lead orchestral sectionals. The ASU orchestras also maintain a vibrant relationship with the Phoenix Symphony with frequent guest artist visits in both sectional rehearsals and side-by-side rehearsal contexts.
Guest artists have included renowned faculty performers and other celebrated professional collaborators including:
The orchestral program at ASU has a long tradition of artistic excellence. Much of the world's greatest symphonic literature has been performed by the ASU Orchestras, including Richard Strauss' Don Quixote, Death and Transfiguration, Four Last Songs and Til Eulenspiegel, as well as symphonies by Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. The orchestra also performs such virtuoso showpieces as Respighi's Pines of Rome and Roman Festivals, Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol, Scheherazade and Russian Easter; Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis and Mathis der Maler, Holst's The Planets, and Stravinsky's Firebird, Petrouschka and Rite of Spring. Performances by the ASU Orchestras are regularly recorded for future radio broadcast.
In 2010, the Herberger Institute School of Music launched its innovative ensemble program; students currently pursue an individually tailored curriculum of ensemble studies working with a variety of faculty and guest conductors. The personnel of the orchestras are chosen from the entire ASU student body through a rigorous audition process. Former members of the ASU orchestras are now performing in many of this country's finest symphony orchestras including those in Phoenix, Detroit, Indianapolis, Rochester, Minnesota and Cleveland, as well as the Metropolitan Opera.
Recent performances include a gala concert with pianistic giant Andre Watts, a performance of Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection), as well as a musical tribute to the legendary Hollywood director, producer and writer Blake Edwards, a concert that featured the music of Henry Mancini with his daughter Monica performing as the guest soloist. The ASU Symphony Orchestra has collaborated with the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet in full-length performances of La Bayadere as well as with Ballet Arizona in presenting four performances of Tchaikovsky’s full-length Swan Lake Ballet. The orchestras combine frequently with the Herberger Institute School of Music’s Choirs and Choral Union to present the great choral orchestral works, including works such as Bernstein Chichester Psalms, Brahms Requiem and Orff Carmina Burana.
Founded by Miles Dresskell, for whom a memorial award is presented yearly to outstanding members of the orchestral program, the ASU Symphony and Chamber orchestras have been led by former directors Eugene Lombardi, Henry Charles Smith, Timothy Russell.