CELEBRATING THE 25th
ANNIVERSARY OF THE SSO
INTERVIEW WITH DR. JEFFREY SCHOYEN, CONDUCTOR OF THE
In 1985, Dr. Thomas Elliot became the
Chairman of the Music Department at Salisbury State College. One of his dreams was to
start a symphony orchestra, and in 1986 with the support of Dr.
Thomas Bellavance, President of SSC, and an enthusiastic group
of local classical musicians, this dream was realized.
Elliot was the SSO's
first conductor. He
retired in 2003, and in 2005 Dr. Jeffrey Schoyen, associate
professor of music at SU, and accomplished cellist, became the
SSO's new conductor. He talks here about the SSO as it is today and its plans
for the 25th anniversary season.
How has the
symphony grown in the five years you have been here?
In the last five years, the players and I
have worked very hard to produce a consistent level of playing,
and they have grown artistically and learned to play in
What have been some of your goals for the SSO?
Of course, I am very committed to giving
four consistently good concerts each year. My wife, Sachi Murasugi,
and I are solidifying the string sections. Sachi is the
concertmaster and attends all the rehearsals. She and I are trying to
build a strong, string program in the department. The SSO now has an
established tradition of a fall Children' Concert. This October
23rd the program will feature
based on the children's book by Leo Lionni, and narrated by SU
faculty member Jackie Lew. Also, last season we started a tradition of free
pre-concert lectures to introduce the audience to the musical
works being played.
What attracts students to play in the orchestra?
We have many more students playing now than
we did when I first came to SU. This year we will have 15 students in the orchestra. We
have approximately 50 music majors who are attracted by our
growing and accredited Music Department. Under the leadership of
Dr. Linda Cockey, department chair, we offer a traditional BA in
music, as well as a professional track in music education,
performance, and music technology. Many of our players are
They are students who have been studying an instrument for many
years, and want to continue to play in college. Sachi and I have
recruited string players from our private students and the youth
orchestra. Two talented local high school violinists joined the orchestra
has the SSO's visibility increased during your tenure?
We have a lot of support from the
University, the Symphony Advisory Board, and also the community. Certain individuals,
especially Peter and Judy Jackson, have been very generous. They were responsible
for establishing our permanent endowment and have also given a
charitable remainder trust which will assure the continuance of
the symphony in the years to come.
What is unique about the SSO compared to other orchestras in the
The make-up of our orchestra is very
diverse. We have
professional musicians, talented amateurs, college and high
school students. We
have nurses, ministers, doctors, school teachers,
grandmothers---a wide variety of professions—who help make
rehearsals fun and interesting. We also enjoy support from the University and the
community which makes us different from other area orchestras.
do you find your soloists?
I mainly use my own resources. I keep my “ears to the
ground” and keep a list of possibilities. This year in February we
are again featuring Sarah Jackson, piccolo player with the Los
Angeles Orchestra, who is the daughter of Peter and Judy
Jackson, and the granddaughter of Roger Jackson, one of the
first Board members.
Have you ever been a soloist with the orchestra?
Sachi and I were soloists in Bach's
in 2007, and last year I played the cello solo in Haydn's
Cello Concert in C major.
All of my musical activities have grown out of cello
playing. It is an
opportunity and a challenge to play the cello with the
orchestra. I think
it's important for a conductor to understand where the players
are coming from. Sachi
and I also play two concerts a year in the Allegheny Ensemble.
What are your plans for this 25th anniversary season?
Our holiday concert will feature Charlotte
Paulsen, mezzo-soprano. In February, the theme will be French, and Sarah Jackson
will be soloist.
And in the spring, we will be playing Russian music with soloist
Wesley Baldwin on the cello.
The Board is also planning a gala event on
March 19th to celebrate our anniversary----more
details to come!
What's on the Symphony's wish list for the future?
As the orchestra develops, I would like to
see us play some more difficult symphonies, such as the later
symphonies of Beethoven, Schuman, and Brahms. We are almost there!
Public Radio Delmarva
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