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Senior Britta De Groot will perform a piano con­certo at the concert.
Courtesy | Britta De Groot

The Hillsdale College Orchestra is bringing back the winners of last January’s Aria Com­pe­tition for their annual Parents Weekend Orchestra concert. 

Senior Britta De Groot, a pianist, and 2020 alumnae sopranos Christa Green and Domine Clemons will perform solos alongside the orchestra on Sat­urday, Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. and again Sunday, Oct. 18 at 2 p.m. in the Christ Chapel.         

“To be in an orchestra with other musi­cians was such an ener­gizing thing,” said James  Holleman, chair of the music department, expressing the musi­cians’ joy at returning after a shortened spring concert cycle.

High­lights of the per­for­mance include Six Dances from “The Danserye” by Tylman Susato and “Fan­tasia on a Theme” by Thomas Tallis. De Groot will be per­forming Sergei Prokofiev’s Third Piano Con­certo.

“I am beyond excited and honored to be per­forming this fab­ulous con­certo,” De Groot said in an email. “Playing with the orchestra adds a whole new dimension to the piece. The orchestra brings a depth and power to the com­po­sition that is really exciting and vibrant.” 

The orchestra is still taking pre­cau­tions against the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.        

“Because of the COVID virus, we’re rehearsing strings alone, wood­winds alone, and brass alone,” Holleman said.        

The risk asso­ciated with wind instru­ments and flutes are espe­cially chal­lenging, as they blow into their instru­ments and produce aerosol and moisture, Holleman said. As a result, they will be sep­a­rated by a Plex­i­glass barrier from the rest of the orchestra.        

“I’m excited and also con­cerned to have winds and brass blowing into the instru­ments for the first time, with everybody,” Holleman said. “They’re doing it on their own, they’re trusting each other to be rea­sonable about their pro­tocol 24/7.”      

The stringed instru­ments will be wearing masks as well, Holleman said, which has had its own problems.         

“It’s really hard to play violin with a mask on, we had to get these weird violin masks which scrunch up really close so we could play,” said senior and first vio­linist Eleanor Fishlock.        

Musi­cians are also seated alone rather than in pairs for maximum social dis­tancing.        

“That has been a little hard with the page turns because the system is all messed up,” Fishlock said, “and hearing people is very hard.”

When a student is quar­an­tined, Holleman said, things get very tricky for the whole orchestra.        

“It’s dif­ficult when stu­dents are quar­an­tined for 14 days and miss that many rehearsals,” Holleman said. “But the college is doing well. They’re red-flagging stu­dents well, they’re iso­lating, they’re taking this seri­ously. We need to make this work because the goal is to have class, to have rehearsals, to have per­for­mances, to have college, as Dr. Arnn says. And so we’re doing our part to have college in the music department.”