Orpheus Concert Captivates With Student Compositions


Jasmyn Campbell/San Jacinto Times

Allen Campos performs #Resist by Jacob Adams April 18 during a showcase of contemporary music created and performed by music students of the Central Campus.

The lobby of the Monte Blue music building buzzed with excitement as individuals with cased instruments, a girl with a flute, and several others dressed in black moved back and forth among one another. They were the evening’s musicians.

Five minutes to show time.

The mostly uniformed performers made their way backstage while guests entered the auditorium and took their seats. A gentleman approached the stage and implored the audience to enjoy Orpheus.

The spring Orpheus concert took place April 18 on San Jacinto College Central Campus and showcased original compositions both written and performed by San Jac music students.

Vocalists Chad Fontenot and Byron Thorn exhibited no signs of nerves, but expressed excitement about the performance with Fontenot attributing it to the opportunity “to show people and have people hear the art that we’re making.”

Orpheus is the society of composers dedicated to the promotion of contemporary music created and performed by the students of San Jacinto College. The concerts began in 2008 with only four composers. This year, the concert boasts ten composers and over two dozen musicians.

“Past members of Orpheus have gone on to four-year universities and majored in music composition at schools such as the University of Texas, Baylor, and the University of Houston,” Joseph Schenck, honors music professor and the director of Orpheus, said.

According to Schenck, students start preparing their compositions early in the semester. There are several deadline students must meet before their work is considered “concert ready,” he said. Once deadlines are met, Schenck takes into account the number of pieces, completion of other compositions, and other factors before making final selections for the concert.

After the final compositions are selected, preparation for the concert begins. For Fontenot and Thorn, their choir ensemble prepared weeks in advance. “We had a couple of rehearsals a week [for] a few weeks,” Thorn said. “Then, it was every day the week before the concert.”

The musicians featured at this year’s concert ranged from vocalists, pianists, percussionists, strings, and many more.

Once the concert began, the audience was captivated by the talent appearing on stage. The music ranged from light and playful to somber and thoughtful. One piece, inspired by the current political and social climate per the composer’s notes, left the audience stunned.

“Wow,” said a voice in the crowd.

The talent and story-telling of the evening brought the audience to their feet as they applauded and cheered for the artists of the future.