October 11, 2012
With a debut concert on Oct. 16, the UT Community Orchestra unites students with Tampa Bay musicians.
Started under the guidance of Kira Horel, director of orchestral and string studies, the ensemble is comprised of 59 members.
Robert McMurrian, right, said he’s a frustrated musician at heart.
Alicia Gonzalez ’12, center, is one of the several recent alumni in the orchestra.
Music is what gives Cameron Nepini ’14 balance. It helped him through a hectic high school schedule and is helping him with his heavy 18 credits as a freshman in the nursing program at UT.
“When I’m stressed, it’s an outlet to play,” said Nepini, of Maryland. “It really helps.”
Nepini, who began playing the violin in the fourth grade, is a member of the UT Community Orchestra, which will give its first performance on Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Falk Theatre, with a pre-concert discussion at 6:45 p.m.
Started this semester under the guidance of Kira Horel, director of orchestral and string studies, the ensemble is comprised of 27 UT students as well as 32 members of the University and Tampa Bay communities. She started the venture, which practices Tuesday nights from 7-9 p.m., as a way to boost the educational experience of strings students and to provide the community with a chance to play in an orchestra setting here in downtown Tampa.
“I’m pleasantly surprised to have this much response so fast,” said Horel, comparing the group to a Tuesday night bowling group as social and fun. “Everyone is very positive about the orchestra, and I’m excited about the buzz. It reflects in the players.”
Michael Weeks, associate professor of management and senior associate director of the TECO Center for Leadership, has played in community orchestras for most of his life. As an Air Force officer, he toted his violin with him, performing in groups from Mississippi to England to the Middle East. He said it gives him the opportunity to get to know people he otherwise wouldn’t have met.
“I enjoy making music with others,” Weeks said. “The UT orchestra is in its early stages and developing its identity. In the next few years, I'm sure it will grow and have an impact on music in the local area through its outreach in Tampa.”
He said students benefit from the ability to play a broader range of repertoire than they might otherwise encounter in smaller chamber groups, and find mentors in some of the established members.
“It creates such a welcoming feeling to have people from all over the community wanting to take part in creating music with us,” said Allie Heinrichs ’15, a finance major and music minor, who is passionate about the cello. “The diversity and different skill levels bring a lot to our orchestra, expanding our musical intelligence as well as introducing us to new people that share the same interests.”
Robert McMurrian, associate professor of marketing and co-director of the Center for Ethics, said he’s a frustrated musician at heart. He has played trombone since elementary school and has started piano lessons through the music department.
“I love music. It’s a big part of my life,” said McMurrian, who also plays in the Eastern Hillsborough Community Band, which plays pop music. “I enjoy being able to play both types of music.”
One challenge for conductor Horel is finding pieces that are challenging enough for the experienced musicians and easy enough for those less tenured.
“I want people at some point in the concert to feel they played well and that they were challenged,” said Horel.
The program for Tuesday should do just that. The performance will begin with a “behind the music” pre-concert discussion at 6:45 p.m. on the music being performed that evening, followed by a surprise piece Horel said everyone should recognize.
The program includes Coriolan Overture, op. 66 by Ludwig van Beethoven,
no. 1 by George Bizet, Capriccio italien, op. 45 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Symphony no. 8, op. 88, G major, Finale by Antonín Dvořák.
The concert is free and open to the public. The second concert will be Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fletcher Lounge in Plant Hall. For more information, contact Horel at
or (813) 257-3762.
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