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SJC Orchestra plans performance this weekend

Mike Easterling
measterling@daily-times.com

FARMINGTON – The musicians he’ll be leading in a concert this weekend may go by the collective name of the San Juan College Orchestra, but Assistant Professor of Music Teun Fetz says that tidy moniker hardly begins to describe the variety of people who play in the group.

Dr. Teun Fetz and the San Juan College Orchestra have been rehearsing since February for this weekend's concert in the Little Theatre.

“It’s a mix of community members and students,” he said, explaining that some of the students are music majors, while others just take music courses.

Some of the community members who play are semi-professional musicians, and others are amateurs, he said, adding that they range in age from 14 to 75. Some travel from as far away as Durango, Colo., or even Gallup to play with the orchestra.

So it’s no surprise that scheduling rehearsals is a nightmare for Fetz.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever have everybody there until the night of the concert,” he said.

But Fetz has been doing his best to get as much of the orchestra together as he can since rehearsals for this weekend’s performance began in February. He said that members who are unable to attend a rehearsal understand that they are still accountable for knowing their part and staying up to speed with their counterparts.

He said it has been especially difficult getting the players of such woodwind instruments as the flute and clarinet together with other elements of the orchestra.

“But we try to find ways around that and work on specific parts of the music when we do have them,” Fetz said.

Musicians with the San Juan College Orchestra rehearse for a concert they will put on Friday, May 6, under the direction of Assistant Professor of Music Teun Fetz.

He said the biggest challenge for the members of the orchestra under those circumstances is to find a way to play together, despite their lack of rehearsal time as a unit.

“As a musician, listening and trying to recognize who you’re playing with is really crucial,” he said. “You’re focused on (your performance), but you have to be aware of everything else.”

Fetz said it also is a challenge to perform the music the way the composer intended with less than a full orchestra.

“We do the best we can and fill in and try to make it work as a composition,” he said.

All the same, Fetz expressed satisfaction at the way the orchestra has rounded into shape as the concert approaches.

“They can certainly be better, but I am pleased with the progress,” he said. “And I feel like people are having a good time, which is very important. There’s a supportive atmosphere, and people are enjoying the experience.”

Fetz said he chose a wide variety of material for the concert.

“We’ve got different styles with different levels of difficulty,” he said. “It’s going to be enjoyable for the audience, but I think it’s good for the orchestra members, as well.”

The selections for this weekend’s program include “Cinema Paradiso” by Italian movie composter Ennio Morricone, “Kazoku” by Japanese composer Keiko Yamada, “La Paloma” tango by Sebastian Yradier and two movements from Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony, Boisterous Bourree and Playful Pizzicato.

A highlight of the concert will be the world premiere of a composition by Durango, Colo., composer and SJC Orchestra violinist Marvin Paioff. The piece features movements of dance, folk and other eclectic styles, and will include dancers.

Rounding out the evening will be performances of “Tea for Two” by Vincent Youmans and orchestrated by Dimitri Shostakovich, “Yesterday” by the Beatles, “Du und Du Waltz” by Johann Strauss Jr. from the opera “Die Fledermaus,” and “The Young Prince and Princess,” which borrows its themes from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

Pointing to the familiarity audience members are likely to have with such tunes as “Yesterday” and Yradioer’s tango, Fetz emphasized that you won’t need to be a classical music aficionado to enjoy the concert.

“I think most of them are very accessible,” he said of the pieces he chose for the performance.

Paioff’s composition is a good example of that, Fetz said.

Amy McKinley, left, and Julia Williams perform with the San Juan College Orchestra, which delivers a concert Friday, May 6 in Farmington.

“It’s a youth orchestra style of music,” he said. “It’s styled to be sixth-grade band-type of music. It’s not high art. All the music is going to be tonal and familiar. I think it will be very user friendly.”

With the different levels of experience and expertise among his musicians, Fetz said he’s had to make his own adjustments as a conductor.

“It’s my first year leading the orchestra, so I’m learning as well,” he said. “We’re all in it together.”

Fetz said performing music is a constant challenge, one nobody ever masters, and that is a lesson all musicians need to remember.

“There’s always something you could do better,” he said. “It’s an imperfect art.”

Mike Easterling is the A&E editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.

If you go

What: San Juan College Orchestra concert

When: 7 p.m. Friday, May 6

Where: The Little Theatre on the SJC campus, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington

Tickets: $8 for adults, and $6 for students and seniors at sanjuancollege.edu/silhouette

For more information: Call 505-566-3430