The Daily Gamecock

Young, female-led orchestra to host third concert

The Bruch Chamber Orchestra will hold its third concert, "Mystery and Joy," Friday night in the W.W. Hootie Johnson Hall at the Darla Moore School of Business.

Founder and conductor Nisan Ak and concertmaster Isabel Ong will lead the orchestra. Named after the first piece it performed last September, a violin concerto by Max Bruch, the professionally run orchestra showcases the talents of young up-and-coming professional orchestral musicians. 

The emphasis on the youth of the orchestra is something Lauren Smith, marketing director and orchestra manager, takes pride in. 

“We have an opportunity here to show that young people do love classical music, and young people can inspire other young people to open their minds and open their hearts to sitting in to classical music,” Smith said.  

Smith said listening to classical music should not be a class requirement, as people have enjoyed it for centuries. Aside from the Bruch Chamber Orchestra's desire to inspire youth audiences, she said her passion comes from the core of this orchestra being run by females.

“I think that having a female concertmaster, a female music director, a female orchestra manager, is a really big thing,” she said. “I have never been to a orchestra where there's been a female conductor and the fact that I’m sitting here with two other women and we run this thing is kind of cool.” 

Ong said professional orchestras have an intense schedule. Not only do they fully rehearse for the concert in less than one week, but it is the job of the concertmaster to lead the section. 

“It really tests your skills on being a musician and how quickly you can grasp the conductor’s interpretation, as well as who you’re playing with,” Ong said. “It’s also very satisfying and very gratifying in the end.” 

The orchestra will play three pieces, beginning with German composer Felix Mendelssohn’s “Fingal’s Cave Overture.” The story is about Mendelssohn's trip to Scotland, where saw the scenic Fingal’s Cave, which inspired him to craft this piece.

“If you listen to the music, you can almost hear the waves,” Ak said.

The second piece, by Richard Wagner, was written for his wife and depicts her falling asleep while holding their infant son and imagining his future successes, Ak said.

The third piece, another of Mendelssohn's, consists of three movements. Ak said he evokes excitement in the midst of sadness in the first movement, melodies "full of ideas" in the second and a plot twist in the third movement, but it ultimately ends joyfully. 

Additionally, the third piece will feature the worldwide, critically acclaimed violinist Ari Streisfeld, who is the assistant professor of violin and violin pedagogy at USC's School of Music. Streisfeld holds a chair in the Cortona Sessions for New Music in Italy, according to a press release.

Ong, having worked with the orchestra since its very first performance, said the most important part about the orchestra has always been Ak’s authenticity and love for music. While some orchestras are created for “ulterior motives,” such as earning money or a degree, the Bruch Chamber Orchestra is built on passion, Ong said.  

Ak said she prides herself on the unique experience the Bruch Chamber Orchestra provides the audience — one in which a smaller, more intimate orchestra has the ability to convey its emotion through beautifully crafted music. 

The Bruch Chamber Orchestra will perform "Mystery and Joy" Friday, Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the W.W. Hootie Johnson Hall at the Darla Moore School of Business. Admission is free and open to the public.