Endowment connects students with professional musicians for classical concert
A new endowment has created an ongoing series of free concerts that bring students side-by-side with professional instrumentalists and singers to perform “masterworks”—a great achievement in the musical world.
The first “John and Margaret Terry Endowed Concert Series” presents a melodic whirlwind of Slavonic Dances and other music from the Czech Republic at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, in Russell Auditorium. All Georgia College ensembles and music groups will perform, and the chamber orchestra will be transformed into a full symphony orchestra with the addition of professional players.
“Students are going to play repertoires that they would only be able to perform at the biggest colleges and most prestigious conservatories,” said pianist Dr. Owen Lovell, assistant professor of music and concert committee chairman.
“This is a higher level than what we’re normally capable of doing in the department,” he said. “And that’s what’s so big about this.”
Pegged the “largest donation in a generation, if ever in the department”—the endowment was gifted to Georgia College by assistant professor of music Dr. Dana Gorzelany-Mostak and her parents and sister. They want the donation to honor John and Margaret Terry of Connecticut. John Terry was an engineer, veteran and accomplished sailor. His wife Margaret was a corporation secretary and “elegant woman whose refinement and sophisticated tastes complemented and enhanced her husband’s adventures.”
The couple traveled extensively through the Americas, rivers of Europe and Caribbean. They were steadfast supporters of the arts with season tickets to musical shows and concerts.
The Terry Endowment honors their legacy, providing funds for students and professional musicians to perform masterwork concerts every other spring at Georgia College.
“It was an opportunity to get the community involved as well,” Gorzelany-Mostak said, “and to give students an experience they would not otherwise have.”
Endowment funds will be used to rent or purchase music and hire musicians from professional orchestras in the region. Since the Macon Symphony disbanded, Lovell hopes Central Georgia residents will come enjoy this orchestral concert of short Slavonic dances that are “uppity and exuberant,” as well as more romantic and subdued.
Students rarely perform masterworks of higher difficulty like Antonín Dvořák’s. He is a Czech composer from the late 1800s, who wrote a series of 16 orchestral pieces called “Slavonic Dances” that are buoyant and full of nationalistic character. Other Czech composers will also be highlighted, including Jindřich Feld and Bedřich Smetana.
More than 125 students will perform from all Georgia College musical groups: Chamber Ensembles of piano brass, flute, guitar, percussion, saxophone, string and woodwind—as well as the Jazz Band, Max Noah Singers, University Orchestra, Wind Symphony and Women’s Ensemble.
Senior Arianna Baxter of Savannah is earning dual degrees in music and liberal studies with concentrations in religion, music and French. She plays the violin in Georgia College’s String Orchestra and String Quartet.
“This concert is a first-of-its-kind at Georgia College,” she said. “It presents students with an opportunity to play challenging music on a bigger scale than usual. It’s very exciting to me, because I love playing full orchestra music.”
This concert raises student work to the level of real-world performances. Few universities in Georgia have the funds, personnel or organization to “put something like this together,” Lovell said.
In three rehearsals, students will be coached by professional players. This close encounter with career experts raises the performance bar high and brings ensembles closer together, as students try to model a professional’s posture and tone.
Lovell fondly recalls performing masterworks with professionals in his undergraduate days.
“That’s a super inspiring feeling,” he said. “It raises your game in terms of preparation, because you’re trying to match the sound and technique that person is modeling.”
Gorzelany-Mostak agreed, saying “When I think back on my college education, I don’t remember a ton of the everyday stuff. But I do remember standing on those stages performing the masterworks.”
“What a wonderful experience for our students,” she said. “With this endowment, I hope we’re creating some of those kinds of memories for our students.”
The concert is free. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 478-445-8289.