The La Verne Chamber Orchestra, which was formed last semester by senior adjunct professor of music Danielle Cummins, has grown to new dimensions with new instrumentalists and the guidance of conductor and senior music major Emmanuel Lagumbay.
As of now, there are around a dozen instrumentalists, comprised of both University students and community members, and a majority of them play string instruments. Cummins intended it to be exclusively a string orchestra, but decided to welcome more instruments to make it possible for more musicians to join.
“We can play a lot more pieces this way, and it brings a completely different dimension to the music,” she said. “This was the concept that we had from the beginning – to have an orchestra on campus.”
The orchestra now features sophomore music major Caelin Eager on the piano, sophomore music major Timothy May on the trumpet and Carena Nelson on the flute.
“It’s really cool to work with people that are not necessarily my peers on campus, but with people that enjoy music for what it is,” Lagumbay said.
May, who has been playing the trumpet since the fourth grade, was asked by Lagumbay to join the group. May has previously played the trumpet in a high school orchestra, but he has never played with violins.
“It’s an interesting switch in the mind in having to, in high school, play trumpet where you’re sort of the lead, to now being in college where you’re now sort of the background to the violins,” he said.
Cummins said the orchestra has grown tremendously since last semester, especially with the new instruments.
“I think when people see the other instrumentalists that have been added, hopefully they’ll see that potential,” she said. “If they play instruments, they’ll want to join, too.”
Cummins decided to bring in Lagumbay as conductor after he worked with the orchestra once last semester. Lagumbay has had extensive conducting experience.
“We just notice right away that he brings out the best in us,” Cummins said.
As of now, the orchestra’s repertoire covers works from composers like Aaron Copland, to even Cummins’ own composition, titled “Symphonic Piece No. 1.”
“I just have to acknowledge that you’re making my dream come true by playing this piece,” she told the orchestra at the end of rehearsal.
Cummins said she had always wanted to write a symphonic piece and wrote “Symphonic Piece No. 1” specifically for the group.
“It’s something I never thought I’d be able to do,” she said.
The La Verne Chamber Orchestra is preparing for their upcoming concert May 17.
“I’m looking forward to everybody being really proud of themselves because they’ve worked really, really hard,” Cummins said.
Cummins invites anyone who plays an instrument to join the orchestra’s rehearsals from 4:30 p.m. to 5:50 p.m. every Thursday in Morgan Auditorium.
“These musicians have grown quite a bit from last semester,” Cummins said. “That’s the whole idea, that people come here so they can have a good time and to be immersed in the musical experience. That’s what this whole orchestra is founded for.”
Kristina Bugante can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.