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Orchestra conductor Rosalind Erwin previews Winter Reset Concert | The Triangle
Arts & Entertainment

Orchestra conductor Rosalind Erwin previews Winter Reset Concert

Photo by Samuel Gregg | The Triangle

With the end of the quarter quickly approaching, Drexel has a number of free upcoming performing arts events to commemorate the end of the term. On Friday, March 15, the Drexel University Symphony Orchestra will take the Main Auditorium stage for their Symphonies Rock II: Winter Reset concert. Running just under two hours, the performance will include Berstein’s “Overture to Candide,” Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 8 in G Major,” and Bach’s “Concerto for Viola in C Minor.” In preparation for the concert, I got the opportunity to speak to Rosalind Erwin, Drexel’s highly acclaimed conductor and educator. 

Q: Does the repertoire consist of a general theme, and how did you go about picking each piece? 

A: Well, first of all, we’re featuring the winner of the solo competition that we have every year, who’s our principal violist, Sam Gideon. I was trying to select music that had great appeal to not only the musicians, you know, they have to rehearse this for nine weeks, but also to the audience. So it’s music that’s very upbeat, tuneful, recognizable to many people who understand this type of music. The theme was a winter reset, and that’s a real tough one, I get it. But if you have a chance, and if we had had a normal winter, where things are always dull and dreary, like today, then this whole idea of being able to do something by Leonard Bernstein as zippy as the Candide Overture, to do something as upbeat as the Dvorak Symphony, which has great melodies throughout it. It’s kind of a way to psychologically get yourself transported to a different realm.

Q: What is the most rewarding part about conducting the orchestra?

A: These are all non-music majors. In terms of performance, all of the people that are here studied diligently throughout high school, achieved, performed in many high-end youth orchestras. Some took lessons while they were at Drexel. But, you know, they’re in other fields. My concertmaster for the first five years I was here is now a very gainfully employed physicist. So these are people who just enjoy the communion of this type of ensemble. They like this kind of music and they just want to keep on playing. They’re not here to get a degree and go out there and audition for the Scranton Symphony. That’s not what it’s all about. These will be the people who support the arts, be they performing arts, be they the plastic arts, be they whatever. These are going to be the supporters. And the more involved and educated they are about music in general, the better off society is, quite frankly.

Q: And then my last question is just, I guess, if someone is completely new to just orchestra or just any kind of performing arts, why should they come see this upcoming concert?

A: Because it’s exciting! And they get to see their colleagues doing something on a really high level. And it grew from maybe 45 people to 55 to 62 to 78. Pandemic hit, we survived the pandemic by actually rehearsing online. I thought I was going to lose my mind, but we survived and enrollment dropped to like 36. But we are now back and we have people who come back after they graduate and continue to perform, which they’re allowed to do in this because it’s a rewarding experience. it’s an opportunity to hang out with people who kind of get you. Just like theater people like to join the theater because they hang out with people who get them.

Don’t miss the Symphony Orchestra concert on March 15, and check out more of what Drexel’s performing arts has to offer at https://drexel.edu/performingarts/performances-events/upcoming-events/.