RLC REVIVES COMMUNITY ORCHESTRA AFTER 25 YEARS: Premiere Thursday night in theatre
ACCELERANDO - String players in the Rend Lake College Community Orchestra, Andrea Oliger (LEFT) and Chelsea Cross, both of Belle Rive, listen intently to instructions from conductor Larry Phifer at rehearsal. The orchestra has been revived after a 25-year torpor and will premiere at the RLC Spring Concert, Thursday, April 19, in the college theatre. The event starts at 7 p.m. and is free to attend. CLICK HERE for a larger image.
INA, Ill. – The Rend Lake College Community Orchestra is back after a 25-year torpor and will premiere on stage as one of many performances at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at the 2012 RLC Spring Concert in the college theatre.
According the Community Orchestra’s conductor, Larry Phifer of Mount Vernon, it isn’t exactly a “rebirth” of the Rend Lake Civic Symphony Orchestra – a not-for-profit corporation, separate from the college, that dissolved more than two decades ago. But it’s a near miss considering the orchestra board was strongly supported by RLC years ago and therefore became identifiable as the college’s orchestra. Phifer, who teaches at Rend Lake, has 43 years experience teaching music in schools. He has played in three semi-professional orchestras and is now in his 30th year with the Paducah Symphony.
He said Mt. Vernon Township has the only high school orchestra program in the RLC district. He added that Southern Illinois University Carbondale has a fine orchestra. Considering that, Phifer said a void exists in orchestral music within the region and the revived orchestra at RLC aims to fill it.
“I am devoted to orchestral music,” he said. “... We are hoping to support [Mt. Vernon High School] by having a place for their students to play after they get out of school.”
But the RLC Community Orchestra isn’t just for players right out of high school. This orchestra is for anyone and everyone. Experienced players from the area who would like to pass their talent on to younger players are also strongly encouraged to join. The orchestra is centered on mentoring to improve everyone’s experience.
“Anytime I have played, I have always found that I will play up to a better player,” Phifer said. “... If you are playing with a person who outplays you, you are going to go up to that level. And that’s the whole idea, get some younger kids in here with stronger players.”
Nancy German plays oboe in the orchestra. She is a retired teacher and graduate of Mt. Vernon Community College. She played in the orchestra there, under Tal Smith, in the 1960s. Mt. Vernon Community College later became RLC.
“I love orchestra,” German said. “I’ve always been in community orchestras. I’ve played off an on for many years. I love music. I love to play the oboe and it’s exciting they are starting something again.”
Andrea Oliger of Belle Rive plays violin for the RLC Community Orchestra. German, it turns out, taught Oliger in third grade.
“I played in high school,” Oliger said. “But I haven’t played in quite a while. This is my opportunity to get back into it and play with a group. It’s going well – slowly but surely. I haven’t played for a while, so jumping back in, it’s going to take a little bit to get going.”
Additionally, the RLC Community Orchestra gives students another option in the college catalog of Associate of Fine Arts Degree programs.
“It now opens it up that we have an ensemble that includes strings,” Phifer explained. “There is something for everyone.”
RLC Music Director Sara Alstat said the new orchestra is multifunctional.
“It will provide a training orchestra for the music students of Rend Lake College, and help develop orchestral music and orchestral musicians, especially string players, in southern Illinois. It expands what our music program can offer students and it provides an outlet for adult musicians to continue their passion for playing in an orchestral ensemble. In order to provide a complete orchestral experience, we will schedule concerts throughout the academic year.”
Don’t miss the RLC Orchestra in its premiere performance Thursday night. The theme of the 2012 Spring Concert is “An Evening at the Movies.” It will feature not only the orchestra, but the RLC Concert Band and Concert Choir. Admission is free. The event begins at 7 p.m.