Music streamed through the open doors of the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Center’s main theater late Monday night while members of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra (OSO) rehearsed.
Two Carleton music students join the orchestra this Sunday, November 28, for a joint ensemble in front of a live audience.
The performance is the culmination of Carleton University’s pilot partnership with OSO, which gives students a unique opportunity to work with professional musicians.
The opportunity is “gold”, according to John Higney, supervisor of performance and ensembles at Carleton.
“If I was looking for a bachelor’s music program and I was in the classical music stream that I was as a bachelor, this would be something that would be very attractive to me,” Higney said.
Auditions were held before the start of the school year and were open to all Carleton music students. In the end, a few students were selected.
“Students who were admitted to the ensemble are very, very talented. But there is another experience in having the chance to play with professional musicians,” Higney noted.
Rebekah Waddell, a first-year trumpeter at Carleton, said working with members of the OSO was daunting at first. She went to audition at short notice and was to her mild disbelief one of two students admitted to the ensemble. Waddell added that she quickly learned that she, too, would receive professional treatment.
“There is a high level of respect,” she said.
Students are expected to learn their music and bring their talent and work ethic to the table, according to Waddell.
“They do not treat me like I’m a freshman [student]said Waddell. “It’s a lot like, ‘Okay, she knows how to teach her music. So let’s work on it with her.’ Then they give me useful tips and I go home and work on it. ”
Students are given one-on-one time with instructors. Waddell said each musician has their own style of instruction and it is helpful to get feedback from multiple people.
“I get double the practice,” she said.
Waddell said she is looking forward to Sunday’s performance. It will be the first time in two years that her friends and family will be able to see her perform.
“Unfortunately, we have to keep Carleton [performances] close-fitting due to [COVID-19] security protocols. But this one, since it’s with the Ottawa Chamber Orchestra, we’re able to branch out a little bit more. ”
While performing in front of a live audience, Waddell said it is important to save the buzz of excitement for after the concert.
“I do not like to get too excited or overwhelmed because I do not want it to affect my game,” she said. “I want to maintain the calm, relaxed mentality until afterwards.”
Saturday’s dress rehearsal will give students one last chance to prepare for the concert, which will mark the end of their experience in the Carleton-OSO partnership.
Ben Glossop, the lead bassoonist at OSO and the Carleton-OSO ensemble director, emphasized the importance of the experience.
“Getting your career going is a very important experience for musicians,” Glossop said. “It’s going to be a bumpy ride no matter what … but the experience you’re getting and the organizations that are around to make that kind of transition are really valuable.”
Glossop said the partnership not only benefits Carleton music students, but also OSO, Ottawa’s largest orchestra, which includes more than 100 musicians.
“The biggest part of the Ottawa Symphony was a desire to be a positive influence in society and for young up-and-coming musicians,” Glossop said.
He believes that Carleton’s music program has a wide range of strengths and that the partnership will help build the university’s reputation within the framework of traditional Western classical music.
“The opportunity to reinforce the classic side of what they do was something that seemed like a great partnership,” Glossop said. “Hopefully, through this program, it will be something that happens organically in the years to come.”
Glossop and Higney agree that the success of the program can pave the way for Carleton-OSO performances on a regular basis.
Featured image of Ali Khaleghi.