This semester was something special for a group of musicians at Indiana University. They were challenged in ways that they never had been before, playing music that many thought was way beyond their ability level, and finally coming together as a cohesive performing ensemble.
Would you be surprised if I told you that these musicians were actually business and biology majors? Well, it’s true! The All-Campus Orchestra is comprised of students from all walks of life at IU who just love to play. Typically, groups like this play easy bits of classical music or arrangements of pop tunes. But not the case this semester! Under the direction of Ben Bolter, the All-Campus Orchestra is being stretched to play music of Vivaldi, Dvorak, and Tchaikovsky.
I met up with Ben to talk music, conducting, and to ask the question so many people are asking… Can you pull this off?
Ben is a passionate musician, and he seems to thrive on challenging situations. His enthusiasm has spread to the musicians in the orchestra, as he raves about their work ethic and desire to create a high-quality musical product.
I decided to pay Ben and the All-Campus Orchestra a visit during one of their Monday evening rehearsals. I found an empty chair next to Ella Hartley in the back of the cello section. Her major? Near Eastern Languages and Cultures with a concentration in Arabic. Oh, and she’s a Religious Studies minor, too. She’s been playing cello for about 11 years, and as we were chatting DURING rehearsal (…sorry Ben…) she told me that she loves how playing takes the stress away from school.
While Ben spends most of his time conducting classical music, he has a wide range of musical interests. “There’s a genre for everyone,” he said. He went on to say how he values music’s power to transform or accentuate your mood. “And now these people get to take it a step forward and have a hand in creating it,” he said about his young orchestra members.
Ben Bolter studied oboe at the New England Conservatory before coming to IU to get his masters in Instrumental Conducting. He now serves as an adjunct lecturer at the Jacobs School of Music. The All-Campus Orchestra did recently perform this ambitious program, and from all accounts, it was wildly successful.