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The Hillsdale College Sym­phony Orchestra will perform at George Mason Uni­versity this weekend as a part of the College Orchestra Directors Asso­ci­a­tion’s national con­ference

For the first time since its founding in 1951, the Hillsdale College Sym­phony Orchestra will perform for a national audience. The ensemble will play at the College Orchestra Directors Association’s national con­ference in Fairfax County, Vir­ginia, on Friday, Feb. 3. The con­ference runs from Feb. 2 to Feb. 4.

Hillsdale’s orchestra won the chance to play at CODA after sub­mitting audition tapes to the com­pe­tition.

“This is the first time I ever sub­mitted tapes,” James Holleman, director of orchestra, said. “I knew it was going to be a strong orchestra this year.”

Hosted by George Mason Uni­versity, the per­for­mance is momentous for Hillsdale’s orchestra of 77 members — an oppor­tunity to showcase its skill to more than 300 uni­versity orchestra con­ductors from around the U.S. and Europe.

“Trav­eling with an orchestra is probably a once-in-a-lifetime expe­rience for most of us,” junior vio­linist Micah Heinz said. “When Pro­fessor Holleman told us he was entering the com­pe­tition last year, I don’t think we thought any­thing would come of it. We’re a small school com­peting against a bunch of large schools.”

Though the fea­tured per­for­mance is the high­light of the con­ference, the orchestra will also partner with Uni­versity of Tulsa’s sym­phony orchestra for a master class led by graduate student con­ductors and will travel to Wash­ington, D.C., to hear the National Sym­phony Orchestra.

The orchestra’s reper­toire for the per­for­mance includes a variety of unique pieces chosen to help its per­for­mance stand out. “Ser­enade to Music” by Ralph Vaughan Williams fea­tures senior vio­linist Hannah Andrews, and “Scottish Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra” by Max Bruch fea­tures senior vio­linist Stevan Lukich.

Heinz said his favorite piece was the last movement of Ben­jamin Britten’s “Four Sea Inter­ludes” from Peter Grimes.

“The interlude tries to paint a storm,” he said. “It’s really dra­matic and beau­tiful.”

Holleman said he antic­i­pates the per­for­mance at George Mason Uni­versity will improve the rep­u­tation of Hillsdale’s music department, helping with recruiting, fundraising efforts and con­fi­dence.

“We’ve said we have a good program,” Holleman said. “Now we have an objective outside national source saying, ‘You have a strong program.’”