Elmhurst College Philharmonic Orchestra Director Taka Matsunaga wanted to do something special to celebrate the College’s name change on July 1.
He thought it would be “wonderful” to get the orchestra members together to perform Mozart’s Symphony No. 14 to mark the occasion. He faced one big challenge, however: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, orchestra members were unable to rehearse or perform in person.
So Matsunaga conducted the next best thing—a virtual performance.
With the help of senior music education major Jenna Garcia, Matsunaga set his plan in motion about 45 days ago. First, the two discussed what composition the orchestra would perform. They eventually picked Mozart’s Symphony No. 14 for several reasons.
Mozart’s music is bright, happy and positive, which I think perfectly fits for this rare yet exciting occasion. The orchestration of this piece also matches very well with our orchestra.Taka Matsunaga
Garcia, who plays violin in the orchestra, said the music creates the ideal mood.
“Mozart Symphony No. 14 feels celebratory,” she said. “There are also a lot of drum-strike-type sounds that the strings perform in the beginning that make the music feel bombastic. Changing from a college to a university is celebratory and bombastic, too, just like this symphony.”
The most challenging part of the project was keeping the 18 orchestra members featured in the video on tempo and in tune, Matsunaga said. Each orchestra member recorded her or his parts at home, performing to a guide track to stay on pace. Andrew Steininger ’20 also played a big part in the project, editing the video and audio.
Even though she didn’t play with her peers in person, Garcia said the project brought the musicians closer together.
“It made me feel like I was a part of a physical ensemble again, even if it’s from home,” she said. “For musicians, playing with a group of people is essential. The group basically becomes your tiny family. It was nice to have that feeling back.”
The video performance will launch on Tuesday, June 30, on Elmhurst’s social media channels.