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New strings ensemble nearly 30 years in the making

Performances set to begin in 2013

By Rachel Riggs
On November 2, 2012

  • Andy Atterbury. Tim Lester

     ASU's new Chamber Strings ensemble will kick off next semester for students, faculty and community members who are interested in taking an elective strings course.

     The last time ASU has had a strings ensemble was 1985, Professor of Music Maurice Kelley said.  
"We have a pretty good theatre department here, but right now we don't have an orchestra to put in the pit," Kelley said. "The choir does all of these wonderful concerts, but they don't have an orchestra to accompany them. Having a strings ensemble exponentially expands opportunities for our department."

     Junior Demarcus Parker, who is a music major and member of the choir, said he thinks this ensemble will boost the number of music majors.

     "A lot of people who are interested in music like to play strings but they don't have their [own] instrument," he said. "By bringing the orchestra here, it would bring more options for students. I know a lot of people in the band who play the violin or other instruments."

     Kelley said he hopes the response this spring leads to a new strings degree plan here at ASU.
"My hope is that everything will go through the curriculum committee, then hopefully next fall we can offer the degree plan," Kelley said.

     This ensemble will help ASU be competitive with other small colleges, Kelley said.

     "University of Texas at Permian Basin has less than half of the student enrollment that we have, yet they have an orchestra program," Kelley said. "There are kids from around here that are going to UTPB because they have that program. The fact that a school that is smaller can support the program makes us at ASU want to do the same sort of thing."

     Kelley said he has talked to people from junior colleges that do not have strings programs who are interested in transferring to ASU.

     "Somewhere along the lines they (the junior colleges) found out that ASU has a strings guy," Kelley said. "Students really want to come."

     The ensemble will perform at the F.A.M.E. Concert on March 19 next semester. F.A.M.E. is an acronym for Friends of Art and Music Education.

     The ensemble will also help increase retention rates, Kelley said.

     "We are not a huge school, so in order to draw in students we need to offer all of the same opportunities that students have at a bigger school," Kelley said. "We may not have the quantity of bigger schools, but we can definitely offer the quality."

     The public school systems here in San Angelo have "huge" strings programs, Kelley said.

     "The potential is huge for the things we can do," he said. "If anybody is interested in participating, I would encourage them to contact me."

     Kelley's e-mail address is mkelley3@angelo.edu, and his office is located in the Carr Education and Fine Arts Building in room 293.


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