UW Symphony Orchestra Tours Mediterranean Coast

orchestra seen from back of stage
The UW Symphony Orchestra performs in L’Auditori Sala Casals in Barcelona, Spain. (Marlon Rissatto Photo)

The University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra recently concluded its international tour throughout the Mediterranean coast, a transformative experience for many students and community members.

Starting March 10, the orchestra embarked on a musical journey in France and Spain, captivating audiences through a variety of performances.

Under the leadership of Michael Griffith, a UW music professor and director of orchestral activities, the UW Symphony Orchestra showcased its mastery of music ranging from European classics to an American piece by Valerie Coleman that premiered in 2020.

In total, 70 people traveled with the orchestra to the Mediterranean coast. In addition to its performances, the group explored significant sites, such as the Palace of the Popes in Avignon, France, which was where popes ruled in the 1300s. Other sites included Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, an ancient Roman aqueduct, and the beach and ancient neighborhoods in Nice, France.

Griffith, who has conducted all over the world, hadn’t yet had the opportunity to conduct in either of these countries. He says it was an exciting experience.

“Our last concert in Barcelona, Spain, was truly spectacular,” Griffith says. “I think the group really accepted the opportunity and responsibility to represent the University of Wyoming, the orchestra and themselves at the highest level possible. That concert hall is the home of the Barcelona Symphony. So, it was not only a huge audience; it was a musically sophisticated one. That’s what makes our success there so special.”

At the end of the group’s performance in the concert venue, L’Auditori Sala Casals, the audience continued to clap and requested an encore.

“We played an encore, and they still wouldn’t let us off stage,” he says. “So, we played a second encore, and the orchestra knew they nailed it. You could see how happy they were.”

four people posing in a narrow European street
From left, UW Symphony Orchestra violinists Savannah Judkins and Alexandra Robert, both of Cheyenne; Tori Martinez, of Pueblo, Colo.; and Julia Griner, of Casper, enjoy their visit to France. (Faith Danner Photo)

In addition to performing and sightseeing, the group took a Catalonian cooking class, where the members learned to make gazpacho and paella. They also learned how to open mussels and spot spoiled ones, as well as techniques for making crema catalana, a variation of crème brûlée.

“We learned how to cook these meals, and then that was our lunch,” Griffith says. “It was so much fun.”

Many members of the orchestra are current UW students, but several members of the Laramie community are members as well.

“We received support from many, many donors. That’s what made it affordable for the students, and I will forever be grateful for that,” Griffith adds.

With soloists ranging from internationally known guest artists to faculty performers to student competition winners, and frequent world premieres, the UW Symphony Orchestra performs many concerts each year.

The orchestra’s season will culminate with a concert Thursday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts concert hall on the UW campus.

To learn more, visit www.uwyo.edu/music/ensembles/symphony_orchestra.html or email Griffith at symph@uwyo.edu.

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Institutional Communications
Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2929
Email: cbaldwin@uwyo.edu

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