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Arts & Culture

The instrumental piece

On Nov. 29, the King’s College Orchestra debuted with forty musicians performing orchestral repertoire standards Mozart’s Idomeneo Overture and Beethoven’s 1st Symphony.

It was in the gleeful haze after a successful performance that two Chapel choir members decided to start an orchestra.
“People were talking in this ‘wouldn’t it be nice’ sort of way,” says Faye Bontje, a former King’s student who now takes most of her classes at Mount Saint Vincent University. She remembers fellow choir member John Bogardus turning to her and saying, “Let’s do this, you and me.” “Because we’re both clinically insane, I said yes,” she said. “That was in May.”
On Nov. 29, the King’s College Orchestra debuted with forty musicians performing orchestral repertoire standards Mozart’s Idomeneo Overture and Beethoven’s 1st Symphony.
The orchestra is diverse and includes King’s students, Dalhousie music performance students, mathematics post-graduate students, and community members. “We tried to take as many people as we could,” said Bogardus, the conductor. “There were very few people we just said no to.”
But even those who didn’t make the cut were still encouraged to hone their skills. The two directors have developed a sort of scholarship program to subsidize lessons for students who needed extra help. Bontje applies for grants and funding from community organizations, an exercise that Bogardus describes as like “getting water from a stone.” But this way, he says, “everyone gets to play.”
Kim North, music instructor and orchestra flutist, says that musicians involved in the scholarship program have made major improvements. “It’s really exciting because it’s not only rewarding for me as a teacher, but then those students benefit the orchestra,” she said.
North, a music graduate from Dalhousie University, has played in numerous music groups across the province, and now travels to teach and run music workshops.
Bontje says that, as directors, they’re interested in “getting everyone in that we can and finding ways to raise people’s performance levels, and finding money for lessons, ways for quartets and ensembles to happen.”
They also want to facilitate new ensembles on campus by partnering interested musicians together.
“I would like to devote all my time to the orchestra,” said Bontje. “But unfortunately, that’s not financially possible.”
So for now, they’re working to expand and improve. Next semester, the orchestra will tackle Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony and audition more musicians in early January.
And they have high hopes for the future. Bogardus wants to build on the foundation set by the Chapel choir directed by Grammy-award winner Paul Halley, and the chorus, directed by his son, Nick Halley. With a King’s orchestra, he wants the school to be “the place to come for an orchestral experience in the Maritimes.”

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

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