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The University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra is a 90-member ensemble playing the finest in orchestral repertoire. With soloists ranging from internationally known guest artists to faculty performers to student competition winners, and with tours throughout the Rocky Mountain region, the Symphony performs many exciting concerts each year. In 2007, the orchestra embarked on a week-long tour of Bolivia, with concerts ranging from Centro Sinfonico in La Paz to village churches and plazas. (View pictures)
The Symphony has performed with many world-class soloists. Artists they have accompanied range from harpsichordist Igor Kipnis to the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet to pianist Christopher O'Riley (host of National Public Radio's From the Top) to NY Philharmonic Principal Cellist Carter Brey to the classic rock band Kansas. In addition, they have collaborated in shared concerts with the Shanghai University Orchestra, Orquesta Municipal de El Alto (Bolivia), and the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony.
Dr. Michael Griffith took over the podium of the Symphony in 1989. Since then the orchestra has grown significantly in size, playing level, and repertoire. He was named a University of Wyoming "Top Ten" teacher by the graduating classes of 2006 and 2012, has served as a guest teacher at such disparate institutions as the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and at Shanghai University, and was President of the Conductors Guild. Symphony concerts in Laramie draw a large and appreciative audience and are an important part of the cultural life of the University community.
Works played by the Symphony during Maestro Griffith’s tenure include symphonies by Mahler, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Dvorak, Vaughan Williams, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Haydn, Hanson, and Borodin; Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration, Respighi’s entire Rome trilogy, Rimski-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, de Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat, and more. They have joined University of Wyoming choral groups in large vocal works such as Carmina Burana and the Brahms and Mozart Requiems, and played in the pit for theater works including La Traviata, The Nutcracker Ballet, The Magic Flute, Don Pasquale, Così Fan Tutte, The Mikado, and Pirates of Penzance.
New works by fascinating, living composers are often found on Symphony programs, and the orchestra was a winner of a 2005 ASCAP/American Symphony Orchestra League Award for Adventurous Programming. In 2009 we were one of only three college orchestras invited to participate in the Ford Made in America program, and our 2000-2001 Premieres for the Millennium season included four new works composed expressly for the Symphony. Other year-long orchestral projects included participating in the University of Wyoming's 2010-11 residency with Pulitzer- and Grammy- winning composer Jennifer Higdon, a 1999-2000 retrospective on 20th Century music, and 1998's Hildegard's Year, which saluted all women composers in honor of the 900th birthday of Hildegard von Bingen, a medieval German nun and composer. We have commissioned many works - either alone or within a consortium - including music by Joseph Schwantner, Judith Lang Zaimont, and Joseph Curiale.
Membership is by audition only. Players are drawn primarily from the University student body, including both music majors and talented musicians majoring in other fields of study. Many of the members receive some scholarship aid in return for playing in Music Departmental ensembles. There are also a few Laramie residents who participate in the orchestra.
The biennial Dorothy Jacoby Student Soloist Concert gives the University of Wyoming's best students an opportunity to perform as soloist with the orchestra. The student judged to have given the finest performance that evening wins a substantial cash award.
Symphony tours are funded by a combination of sources. These include the University of Wyoming, the University of Wyoming Foundation, the Symphony Association, private donors and host communities, the Wyoming Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Symphony Association for the University of Wyoming offers significant support to the orchestra. This Laramie-based organization funds scholarships, tours, equipment needs, commissions, and other special projects. They also encourage community involvement in orchestra events, help with educational projects, and offer occasional social outlets for lovers of symphonic music.