History of the Wesleyan University Orchestra
The Wesleyan University Orchestra has been an integral part of the University’s Music Department for many years. The completion of the Center for the Arts in 1973 allowed the orchestra to begin a regular annual series of concerts, and the 1980′s saw the rise of a strong orchestral program, first under Roger Solie, and then under Melvin Strauss.
1984 saw the premiere of Henry Brant’s “Meteor Farm,” a commission which featured not only the orchestra, but also many of the Music Department’s celebrated World Music ensembles. The 1988 “John Cage at Wesleyan” festival was a high-water mark for the orchestra; it featured a performance of Cage’s “Atlas Eclipticalis” with nearly a hundred performers, and distinguished guest performers including the Arditti Quartet.
Angel Gil-Ordóñez arrived as music director in the Fall of 1998, the orchestra and its members have played with many major artists under a program that brings performers from the CFA Concert Series together with Wesleyan students; among these perfomers have been Igor Kipnis, the Lydian String Quartet, Jaap Schroeder, and Pedro Carboné. Orchestral collaborations have included performances with Wesleyan’s Theater, Dance, and Film departments. The orchestra and theater department produced Tom Stoppard’s “Every Good Boy Deserves Favor” in the Spring of 2001, featuring music by André Previn; opera productions have included “The Countess III”, “Master Peter’s Puppet Show”, and “The Threepenny Opera”.
In Spring 2000, the orchestra initiated the “Millenium Concert”, which included collaborative commissioned works for the Jazz Orchestra and Gamelan, as well as premieres of works by Wesleyan composers. A year later, under the baton of guest conductor Zheng Xiao-ying, China’s first female conductor, the orchestra performed the U.S. premiere of Liu Yuan’s Symphony “Echo of Hakka Earth Buildings” as a part of the Chinese Music Festival “Echoes of the Earth”. In 2005, as a benefit for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, two New Deal documentaries, the films “The Plow that Broke the Plains” and “The River”, were presented with live musical accompaniment by the orchestra, performing Virgil Thomson’s original scores. Another New Deal Documentary, “The City” (with a score by Aaron Copland), was presented with live music in the Fall of 2007. As a catalyst for contemporary music, the orchestra developed an annual Symphonic Workshop to showcase and premiere works by Wesleyan and other prominent U.S. composers, including Alvin Lucier, Anthony Braxton, Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris, Guilermo Gregorio, and David Amram. Recent premieres include Mijidwewinan (“Messages”), by Barbara Croall, and Dear Mother Earth by Glenn McClure, both commissioned by the Wesleyan Center for the Arts as culminating events in its “Feet to the Fire” Festival, and for the inaugural year of the College of the Environment.
The Wesleyan Orchestra has also performed a variety of works such as Dvorak, Symphony no 8 in G Major; Holst, Jupiter from "The Planets"; Brahms, Variations on a Theme by Haydn; Handel, Water Music - Suite in D Major; Mendlessohn, Die Hebriden; and Beethoven, Symphony no. 7 in A Major.
About the Conductor
Nadya Potemkina is nearing the completion of the Doctoral degree in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Memphis under the direction of Pu-Qi Jiang. Native of St. Petersburg, Russia, she began her music studies at the age of five as a violinist. In 1997, she entered the Herzen State Pedagogical University majoring in Viola and Choral Conducting. While in college, she was employed by the St. Petersburg State Young People’s Theater, the St. Petersburg Conservatory Symphony Orchestra, and the St. Petersburg State Theater of Opera and Ballet as an orchestra violist. In 2003, Nadya began to study Instrumental Conducting at University of Northern Iowa with Rebecca Burkhardt, while working on her Masters degree in Viola Performance there. To further her education as a conductor, she entered a graduate conducting program at Ball State University, studying with Kirk Trevor and Bohuslav Rattay. In the United States, Nadya has performed with numerous orchestras and ensembles as a violist, been a prizewinner in conducting competitions, and attended several Conductors Guild and College Orchestra Directors Association conducting workshops and masterclasses under mentorship of Daniel Sommerville, Charles Gambeta, Viktor Yampolsky, Erin Freeman, Gustav Meier, and Marin Alsop. In July of 2010 she was awarded a Young Conductor citation by The American Prize Competition and in February of 2012 became one of the four finalists in the “4x4 Prizes for Composers and Conductors” Competition. After completing her two-year tenure as a music director and conductor of the Mid-South Young People’s Chamber Ensemble and Wind Ensemble in Memphis, TN (2009-2011), Nadya had accepted an invitation to become a conductor of the "Young Mendelssohns" String Orchestra, a part of the Germantown Performing Arts Center Education Program, in Germantown, TN. In 2012, Nadya made two guest-conducting appearances with Starkville Symphony Orchestra (Starkville, MS), and became one of the 50 participants of the 9th International Grzegorz Fitelberg Conducting Competition in Katowice, Poland. Prior to joining Wesleyan University in August of 2013, Nadya enjoyed a 5-year tenure as an Assistant Conductor of the University of Memphis Orchestras, and served as an Adjunct String Methods and Applied Strings Instructor at Bethel University in McKenzie, TN. Nadya divides her time between Middletown and Memphis, where she remains a founding conductor of the Memphis Occasional Orchestra, an all-volunteer community chamber ensemble which continues to share the joy of music with residents of the Memphis Metro area.
My name is Nadya Potemkina and I am a new music director of the Wesleyan University Orchestra. On behalf of the music department I would like to welcome you (or welcome you back) to Wesleyan and thank you for your (continuous) interest in our Orchestra program.
This year I would like to audition each and every member of the orchestra, regardless of the number of years you have already spent with the ensemble. This is not to stress you out, but to give me an opportunity to welcome you to the group in person and to at least start getting to know you as a musician. Therefore, there are no specific requirements for this audition; you are free to play whatever you feel comfortable with and whatever you believe showcases your skills in the best way possible.
An online link to the Wesleyan University Orchestra audition sign up sheet is posted below.
IMPORTANT: Please, make sure to include your instrument along with your own name.
Name: Johann Bach, organ
1. This sign up link is only for current Wesleyan Students and community members interested in participating in the orchestra for the Fall 2013 semester. This link is not for use by students who are applying for admission to Wesleyan University.
2. Students who have previously participated in the orchestra do need to sign up for an audition time to meet with the conductor.
3. If none of the available time options work for you, please, immediately contact the conductor to make an individual appointment.