After separating from the Bates Orchestra last year, Director George Lopez continues to lead the reformation of the Bowdoin Orchestra.

Artist-in-residence George Lopez replaced the previous orchestra director Roland Vazquez, and essentially restructured the whole orchestra program. While some of the changes have been made to improve logistics, others have been focused on the orchestra’s collective identity on campus. 
Lopez’s wide presence on campus—from playing piano for various performances to teaching private lessons—has helped to make the orchestra feel more integrated with the community.

“Everyone knows him. He performs a lot. That definitely helps give more of a name to the orchestra,” said first cellist Daniel Lesser ’14. 

The mood of the orchestra has been one of the major challenges. When Lopez became director, he sensed a negative attitude within the orchestra. 

“Considering that orchestral music is very complicated music, we’re the only large ensemble on campus that has only one rehearsal a week,” said Lopez. 

“I think that speaks a little bit to the fact that people wanted less and less orchestra because it wasn’t what they expected.” 

With more organization and attention, Lopez hopes the level of energy and enthusiasm for orchestra will continue to increase.

In addition to a shift in group dynamics, the Bowdoin Orchestra ended its collaboration with Bates last year. Under Vazquez, the two small orchestras collaborated to fill in missing parts, but also sacrificed the cohesiveness of rehearsing with one group all the time.

“Two groups that are playing the same music but have never actually played together suddenly having to meet and play together—it was kind of a strange way to do things,” said Adam Zhang ’14, co-concertmaster.

To add to the cohesiveness of the orchestra, students are involved in both smaller chamber groups and the Orchestra simultaneously throughout the year. Before last year, orchestra was in the fall and chamber groups were in the spring. 

Lopez is also trying to raise the level of the orchestra’s repertoire to include larger symphonic works. 

“Even before I was here, music wasn’t really a huge thing at Bowdoin, and even though it isn’t a major thing yet, it’s gotten more serious and more people are getting involved with it,” said Zhang.

With the increased difficulty of the music, the Orchestra is making a greater effort to increase technical skill and meet a new standard.

The next goal is to develop a sense of ownership of the orchestra among the members. 

“Internally, I’d like the orchestra to feel more investment in the ensemble,” he said. “Externally, I’d like to see the level get higher so we can expand our performance base to include non-college venues.”