In an effort to fine-tune its overall quality, the Bowdoin Orchestra will undergo several structural changes next fall. Directed by Beckwith Artist-in-Residence George Lopez, the Orchestra will require a higher level of commitment, increasing its overall quality.
While Lopez initially planned to implement the changes next semester, he has postponed this reform until the next academic year.

“Doing a fall restructuring is better because [the students] have more time to consider what that means for their schedule, and it also creates a new culture for incoming students,” said Lopez.

Lopez hopes to nearly double group rehearsal times to boost the quality of performances, a plan that has been met with mixed reactions from students.

Former orchestra member Emily Licholai ’18 argued that the orchestra will benefit from the additional hours of rehearsal. 

“Because it’s going to take up more time, the people are more willing to spend their time on orchestra will stay and the people who are not as into it will drift off,” she said. “[The group] might be a little smaller, but I think the quality of music will be even better.”

Violinist Devlin Shea ’18 agreed that the added practice time will be an asset to the group.

“The problems we’ve had in the past is not having enough rehearsal time to prepare our ambitious repertoire to the level that we want to be at,” said Shea.

However, considering the many obligations of Bowdoin students, finding the time to both hone musicianship skills and rehearse as a group is difficult. For some members, the current time commitment—two hours every Sunday night—conflicts with their study schedules. As such, the group has seen some recent fluctuation in its members.

“Some of the people who aren’t in orchestra anymore came to the realization not that the orchestra wasn’t up to the caliber that they wanted, but more so that they felt academic work was important,” said current orchestra member Holly Rudel ’17.

While the added rehearsal time may improve the quality of music, those looking for a more relaxed music group may be turned away with these new changes.

In addition to increased rehearsal hours, Lopez plans to increase sectionals in order to hone the skills of each section of instruments individually, making for smoother and more fruitful group rehearsals. 

“[The musicians] come with a lot of skill and a lot of training. What we need is a structure that supports more commitment and allows them to grow and increase their skills,” said Lopez.
“Sectionals do a really good job at isolating the problems and allowing sections to iron out small things, so when we come together our rehearsal time is more focused and more meaningful,” said Shea.

Lopez also plans to invite more high-level musicians from out of town—particularly from Boston—to instruct the sectionals, which he hopes will raise the group’s caliber to a more professional level. 

Lopez hopes the existing group will be enthusiastic about this shift toward more commitment. He has consulted current and previous members to narrow down what the changes will be and how he will implement them.

“The more value I bring to the program, the more they will be willing to commit the extra time,” said Lopez. “They’ll feel like there’s more in it for them as well.”

In the future, Lopez hopes these changes will smooth the way for the orchestra to become a touring ensemble. 

“Eventually the excellence of the orchestra is going to speak to larger and larger communities, both within Bowdoin, and also further afield as we increase the talent of the orchestra,” said Lopez.