Dance of the Firebird


The West Virginia University Symphony Orchestra leads into an upbeat section of ‘Dance of the Firebird’.

The West Virginia University Symphony Orchestra brought powerful works from the 21st century to life Thursday night.

The concert took place in the Lyell B. Clay Theatre in the Creative Arts Center. The night featured WVU’s premiere music ensemble under the conduction of Mitchell Arnold, Associate Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Studies at the University. Given the movement toward allowing students to attend the event free with a valid student ID, many college-age students filled the audience.

"Playing under the direction of Dr. Arnold is really fun. He tells a lot of jokes, has really interesting stories and definitely helps us musically. He has a ton of great instruction to help us sound our best," said WVUSO member Emily Ilyes.

The WVUSO is composed primarily of students in the WVU School of Music, but also includes students from a variety of different majors. Students audition at the beginning of the fall semester to earn a spot in the ensemble, whether in the brass, wind, percussion or string sections.

"Being a part of the WVUSO is a great experience. Playing with the other members is fun and I’ve really learned a lot from them," Ilyes said. "My favorite part about performing is the energy that comes from playing music. It’s so great to play something that you’ve worked hard on as a group and it’s amazing to hear how it sounds in concert."

Some of the pieces of the program included "Tibetan Swing" composed by Bright Sheng, "The Firebird" composed by Igor Stravinsky and sensational finale "Capriccio Espagnol" composed by Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

"We want to perform music that excites our audiences; music that has energy, passion and beauty, sometimes all three at once. It’s important for us to pick music that teaches our music students the challenges of playing with excellence in a large group. There is little that is more rewarding," Arnold said.

All pieces immersed the audience in dynamic and diverse sounds. Given that the pieces were derived from artists all over the world, students had the ability to learn new techniques and different styles of music. The orchestra had the power of changing the atmosphere of the theatre with a change in tempo and new rhythms.

"There is no real theme of the program, just great exciting music played with brilliance and passion," Arnold said.

Arnold and students took part in vigorous rehearsals to prepare for the program.

"Rehearsals are work, but great work. The sense of accomplishment students gain from overcoming the challenges in their own parts with the further challenges of playing in a large group, with one voice, is rewarding" Arnold


The WVUSO continues to bring an enlightening sound to the stage and entertain the local Morgantown area.

"We perform music that engages our listeners. There is nothing in the world like a large orchestra with brass, drums, strings and woodwinds playing great music," Arnold said.