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High Score

The air was abuzz with excitement at St. Andrew’s United Church on the evening of Monday, October 17, where the King’s College Orchestra joined forces with local indie musicians Nick Everett and Willie Stratton. The concert, Inventions, captivated its audience, earning an enthusiastic standing ovation.

The air was abuzz with excitement at St. Andrew’s United Church on the evening of Monday, October 17, where the King’s College Orchestra joined forces with local indie musicians Nick Everett and Willie Stratton. The concert, Inventions, captivated its audience, earning an enthusiastic standing ovation.
The concert consisted of ten songs, ranging from mellow to upbeat. The first five pieces were performed by Nick Everett on vocals and guitar, while Willie Stratton took center stage for the second half of the performance. Stratton was backed up by Everett, as well as Grace Stratton and Magnus von Tiesenhausen, his sister and cousin. The KCO provided accompaniment that transitioned fluidly between haunting and energetic. The orchestra included string, brass, woodwind and percussive instruments, and the students occasionally joined in on vocals for an uplifting effect. John Bogardus, the orchestra’s Artistic Director, animatedly conducted the entire ensemble.
Inventions was initially envisioned by Faye Bontje, the executive director of the KCO, who hoped to add a performance with an intimate feel to this year’s concert series. She called on local musician Everett to help realize her idea. Everett suggested contacting Stratton as another contributor, and in collaboration with orchestra conductor John Bogardus, the two musicians transformed ten original pieces into complete orchestral scores. According to Bontje, roadblocks such as computer malfunctions meant that Bogardus was on three occasions required to reproduce months’ worth of work under extremely tight time limits. But in the end, each song came together beautifully. Over the course of roughly nine hours of rehearsal, the 70-odd members of the King’s College Orchestra learned and practiced the modified pieces.
When he introduced the orchestra prior to the performance, John Bogardus predicted that Inventions would be “unlike any pop concert you have ever been to.”
“The contemporary style of music is something you can get a lot more involved with and something you want to move to,” said Hannah Ehler, a first-year student and violinist with the orchestra. Ehler has been playing the violin for three years, but the KCO is her first orchestra. “Because I’ve never played with a group before at all, it’s a great way to get into it,” Ehler commented. “It was just really great music.”
The orchestra practices two hours each week, along with additional hour-long sectional rehearsals. According to Ehler, conductor John Bogardus does a formidable job of running the practices. “He gets so into the music,” she explained. “He just feels it, and it’s impossible not to feel it yourself.” Aiding with rehearsals are upper strings coach Jeff Komar, lower strings coach Dan Wheeler, and brass coach Rod MacGillivray.
The KCO was founded by Bontje and Bogardus in the fall of 2010. As the orchestra’s executive director and manager, Bontje does most of the administrative work and organization. According to Bontje, keeping an orchestra on its feet is both time-consuming and costly. The KCO receives significant financial support from the King’s Student Union; however, projections show that they may have a shortfall this year.
Much of the funds are put towards coaching. This includes paying for guest instructors, as well as private lessons for some students. The orchestra must also cover the costs of their various concerts, as well as a camp that will be launched during the summer of 2012. The orchestra receives its revenue primarily through ticket sales, as well as from various grants, donations, the KSU and fund-raising activities.
Inventions left audience members impressed with the talent and versatility of the KCO. “It was really original, a breath of fresh air,” said Alexandra Cooke. “I’m really looking forward to seeing more shows in the future.”
The KCO’s next performance is Monday, Nov. 28 at St. Andrew’s United Church. The concert, entitled Landscapes, will feature the work of Beethoven and Borodin. The King’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble, a group new to King’s this year, will also be performing.
Visit the KCO online at kcohalifax.com

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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