UMD Symphony Moves to Performance

Photo by Kirsten Poulsen-House

The University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra proved that even orchestras can combine movement with music during its performance of Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” in May. Led by director James Ross, the ensemble reunited with renowned choreographer Liz Lerman and her team after a critically-acclaimed performance of Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” in 2012.

The members of the orchestra were very receptive to the process of choreographing the performance. “The big challenge to them was that they had to memorize this 27-minute piece of music—from the triangle player, to the string bass player, to the harpsichordist, to the tympanist, everyone,” says collaborator Vincent Thomas. The biggest decision, Thomas concludes, was whether or not the performers should wear shoes. “Without shoes, you’re closer to the ground, to the earth,” he says. “It opens your body up more, spiritually.”

About the author

Joel King

Joel J. King is an editorial intern at Halftime Magazine. He is a senior at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa seeking a degree in magazine journalism. He marched trumpet with the Howell L. Watkins Middle School in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., for a year and Palm Beach Gardens High School for four years as the high brass section leader. He has also marched mellophone and trumpet with the USF Herd of Thunder for a year each.

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