News Story

Orchestra at Temple Square Celebrates 10th Anniversary

The Orchestra at Temple Square’s spring concerts, held 26 and 27 March and conducted by Igor Gruppman, celebrated the 10th anniversary of the orchestra.

“Part of the excitement I feel in coming here is working with the incredible talent and dedication of everyone in the orchestra,” Gruppman explained. “Because they are all volunteers, they really have to be very passionate about music and they all share a deepened understanding and grasp of the spiritual mission that music carries when we perform for our audiences.”

The Ukrainian-born conductor with Russian musical training described the performance this way:

“It’s a very demanding program,” Gruppman explained of the music that honored global victims of genocide. “It’s challenging for the orchestra and challenging to the audience to stretch around the experience. Feelings of sadness, guilt and loss occur and then transition to passages of brightness, even the ecstasy of hope and very powerful spiritual connections.”

The orchestra, begun in 1999 under the direction of Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, performs frequently in both concerts and recordings with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and one of its key responsibilities is to accompany the choir. And like choir members, orchestra players volunteer their time and talents as an expression of their faith.

Though several of the players rely solely on additional musical enterprises for their income, other volunteers are employed as university faculty, engineers, dentists, attorneys, and physicians and in many other professions. There are also “lots of moms,” explained Kathy Anderson, violist, who plays in the orchestra with her cardiologist husband, Jeff. “One young mother, in fact, has delivered five children during her tenure with the orchestra.” Others are retired members of or current substitutes for the Utah Symphony.

Orchestra members range in age from 18 to past 70 years. They represent hundreds of thousands of hours practicing and honing their skills.

Meredith Campbell, concertmaster, estimated that each member has played his or her instrument at least 10 years, practicing often two to three hours a day, for a total of around 800 hours a year. “Once we joked that if we had committed that much time in another field, we would all be successful neurosurgeons,” said Campbell, “yet we keep playing for the love of the experience. Whatever drove you to play the instrument originally continues to drive you not to put it down.”

The orchestra carries a roster of over 100 members but usually performs with about 70 regular players. “The number switches around to accommodate the needs of the orchestration,” Campbell added.

Playing with the choir is a lifelong dream for Kathy Anderson. “I always hoped I could do something like this,” the violist admitted. “And to play with Igor is another highlight. He brings his Russian background, training and enthusiasm to our group. He talks of meeting the composers; his excitement is contagious, and you almost pinch yourself to verify that you are truly participating in the orchestra.”

“There is such a high professional quality and standard in their work,” said Gruppman. “They are attuned to (each other) and play beautifully together. Their humility and dedication is simply inspiring to me, not only when I come here but also when I conduct other orchestras around the world.”

Gruppman and his wife, Vesna, then professors of music at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, were appointed as co-concertmasters at the inception of the orchestra in 1999. Following the initial tenure of Barlow Bradford, Gruppman was named orchestra conductor in 2003. He presently serves as a professor at the Rotterdam Conservatory and is concertmaster of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in Holland.

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