When struck by the urge to attend a cultural event downtown, many River Campus students stop short of getting on RTS Bus 72.

Why?

Nightmarish visions, perhaps ? they think they?ll embarrass themselves by nodding off during some boring classical piece and wake up to find that they drooled all over their date?s shoulder.

Don?t despair. Eastman has a large menu of diverse performances from which would-be concertgoers can choose.

Eastman, like most music schools, contains a group of student ensembles whose performances make up a large portion of the performance season.

The meat and potatoes of any music school?s ensembles are orchestras, wind ensembles and choral groups. Eastman has a smorgasbord that includes all three.

Eastman boasts two symphony orchestras ? the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra and the Eastman Philharmonia.

The Philharmonia is Eastman?s premier orchestra, serving as the accompanying orchestra for the Eastman Chorale as well as Eastman?s mini-Metropolitan ? the Opera Theater.

It has been the resident orchestra at the Heidelburg Castle Festival summer session since 1980, performing orchestral and chamber works.

Both the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia perform standard as well as contemporary symphonic repertoire. Mendi Rodan conducts both, but guests are often invited to lend their different talents to the groups.

Hungry for chamber music? Eastman offers its Chamber Orchestra, which performs a broad array of literature spanning several centuries.

The Eastman Wind Ensemble and Wind Orchestra are also on the menu at Eastman.

The Wind Ensemble was formed in 1952. It has been shaped into a powerful force by Donald Hunsberger, the chair of Eastman?s conducting and ensembles department.

The Wind Ensemble has recorded prolifically. Their album ?Carnaval,? which featured Wynton Marsalis, was nominated for a Grammy award.

The group tours frequently, including a semi-annual trip to Japan.

Eastman vocalists participate and perform through Opera Theater, Eastman Chorale, the Eastman Rochester Chorus and Repertory Singers.

Eastman?s Opera Theater puts on two fully staged productions each year, which are usually very well attended both by Eastman students and by members of the Rochester community.

William Weinert, associate professor of choral conducting and ensembles, conducts the Eastman Chorale and the Eastman Rochester Chorus. As the name implies, the Eastman Rochester Chorus combines Eastman musicians with singers from the Rochester community.

Eastman?s menu also offers jazz. Fred Sturm, professor of jazz studies and contemporary media, leads the award-winning Jazz Ensemble.

This ensemble?s most recent engagements include performances at the International Association of Jazz Educators Conference and the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Renowned guest artists have recently collaborated with the ensemble, including Marian McPartland, Toots Thielemans and Bobby McFerrin.

Moving on to more exotic entrees, Eastman?s Musica Nova, Ossia, Collegium Musicum and the Balinese Gamelan Ensemble give performances every year.

Brad Lubman, assistant professor of conducting and ensembles, directs Musica Nova. This group specializes in various types of contemporary music. Each of Musica Nova?s seasons includes between 20?30 Rochester premieres.

Ossia is a student run group that also specializes in the performance of 20th century music.

On the flipside, Collegium Musicum is a virtuoso group that specializes in the performance of music composed before 1700.

Balinese musicians instruct Eastman?s gamelan ensembles, which are comprised of students, faculty and community members.

The gamelan ensembles, headed by associate musicology professor Ellen Koskoff, regularly perform throughout the Rochester community.

Under the guidance of such professors as the Yings, the members of Eastman?s quartet-in-residence, over 50 student chamber music ensembles are formed each year. These groups also perform.

Now that you know what?s normally offered on Eastman?s performance menu, you should feel comfortable selecting a performance or two to sample in the near future without worrying about passing out in a puddle of your own drool.

If you?re still hungry after the performance, I recommend taking your date out for dessert at the Little Caf.

Bhatnagar can be reached at rbhatnagar@campustimes.org.



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