West Virginia University is saying farewell to a music professor with a final solo in a symphony orchestra performance tonight.

The WVU Symphony Orchestra is finishing off its 2015-2016 season tonight with a performance that features Professor William Skidmore as cello soloist. Before coming to teach at WVU, Skidmore taught at the University of Maryland where he was the first full-time cello teacher as well as the youngest member of the faculty. He also played with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for four seasons after his time at the University of Maryland. He is now retiring after 38 years of teaching at WVU’s School of Music.

Courtney Moore, WVU music education major and second violin in the orchestra, said she liked having class with Professor Skidmore.

“(I) greatly enjoyed his teaching,” Moore said. “He’s a wonderful teacher who isn’t afraid to be a little goofy and have fun while teaching.”

The WVU Symphony Orchestra hosts six to eight performances a year while training students to perform at a high level, both artistically and technically. Members of the orchestra must audition before being inducted into the orchestra, which has won national awards. In 2014, the WVU Symphony Orchestra was invited to perform at the national conference of the College Orchestra Directors Association in Fort Worth, Texas. It was one of only two collegiate orchestras invited to the

event.

Tonight’s performance will open with an intense Intermezzo from one of Giacomo Puccini’s operas, “Manon Lescaut.” The closing piece is an excerpt from Sergey Prokofiev’s ballet, “Romeo and Juliet.” Mitchell Arnold, conductor of tonight’s performance, said the featured music to be “very expressive.”

“Our performance will excite both long-time and new concert goers,” Arnold said. “Also, we are doing one piece that features my colleague and friend, Professor William Skidmore, as cello soloist. Bill is retiring next month and the piece we are doing is particularly bittersweet.”

Arnold’s primary responsibility is conducting the orchestra, however, he is also the director of Orchestral Activities and an associate professor in WVU’s School of Music.

The students playing in the orchestra have put in a lot of practice and work to prepare for the concert. Arnold said that music students perform is usually challenging, but the work it takes helps students grow as musicians.

“When we perform, when we offer the results of our work to our audiences, we get great satisfaction,” Arnold said.

Moore said she is proud of the work she and the other orchestra performers put into the performance.

“I’m most excited to get to share with the audience all the hard work the orchestra has put into these pieces,” Moore said. “This concert will be a great experience for all people to witness.”

The orchestra will perform at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theater in the Creative Arts Center. For tickets to the show and additional information, contact the WVU Box Office at 304-293-SHOW. WVU students get free admission with a valid student ID.