The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 20, 2012

Gustavus Symphony Orchestra preps for South Africa tour

By Tanner Kent
Free Press Features Editor

ST PETER —  

The Gustavus Adolphus College Symphony Orchestra is preparing for a trip to South Africa.
 
During the 13-day, six-concert tour, the group will play a variety of -- from the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront Amphitheater (a premier Cape Town destination set against the magnificent backdrop of Table Mountain) to the Tembaletu Special School, which is a Cape Town school for students with physical disabilities.
 
“Part of the goal of the trip is to get students thinking in a variety of perspectives,” said Al Behrends, Gustavus’ director of fine arts.
 
Behrends said that South African officials requested an all-American program.
 
To that end, the orchestra will feature a series of pieces by instrumental American composers, including: a pair of pieces by Aaron Copland, including “Fanfare for the Common Man” and “An Outdoor Overture”; four short pieces from Leroy Anderson’s “Alma Mater - Scenes for Orchestra”; and John Williams’ “Star Wars” (Suite for Orchestra). 
 
The Gustavus Symphony Orchestra has a membership of about 60 student musicians. The ensemble tours annually, and once every four years travels abroad for a musical and cultural experience. 
In the spring of 2000, the orchestra made its European debut, performing in England, Scotland and Wales. In January and February of 2004, the group embarked on a concert tour in China, making a return visit in January of 2008. 
 
“This tour is a great opportunity for us to grow as musicians while traveling to a country that most of us would probably not see on our own,” Gustavus senior violinist Meghan Peterson said. 
 
Ruth Lin, the orchestra’s conductor, assumed the role in Sept. 2010. Prior to joining the Gustavus faculty, she served as the director of orchestral activities at Iowa State University. Still active as a pianist, Lin regularly performs as part of the Chicago Piano Vocal Score and has been featured on the Dame Myra Hess Series on Chicago’s WFMT as part of the Lin-Kontorovitch piano duo. 
 
The South Africa tour will be documented by Behrends and alumnus Anders Bjorling, who will provide regular updates and photos at www.marketing.blog.gustavus.edu. 
 
Following its return to Gustavus, the Symphony Orchestra will present its annual Home Concert at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 12 in Christ Chapel. The performance is free and open to the public. 
 
Bethany Lutheran College
 
Bethany’s upcoming musical “Very Good Eddie” is the perfect winter tonic.
 
With its whimsical cast of characters, romantic comedy underpinnings and “ridiculously happy ending,” Lois Jaeger said audiences will be temporarily whisked away from their seasonal doldrums.
 
“This one’s a great deal of fun,” said Bethany’s director of fine arts of the performance that opens Feb. 3. “It’s just the right depth and heaviness for the bleak of winter.”
 
Meaning: There is very little of either depth or heaviness.
 
Instead, “Very Good Eddie” follows the (mis)adventures of two physically mismatched couples who meet on a honeymoon cruise. In distinctly vaudevillian fashion, the two couples trade partners to spark true love.
 
The performance is bolstered by Bethany’s Choraliers, a division of Bethany’s choir that includes 40-60 students and annually performs a mid-winter musical.
 
Reservations for the performance will be accepted beginning Monday.