Shasberger, Orchestra Celebrate 10 Years

The 2015-16 Westmont College Orchestra

The 2015-16 Westmont College Orchestra

The Westmont Orchestra celebrates its 10th anniversary season performing brilliantly colorful music by Antonin Dvorak, Alexander Glazunov and Aaron Copland. The Fall Orchestra Concert, which includes a piece by alumnus Daniel Gee, adjunct instructor in theory and composition at Westmont, is Friday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m. in Westmont’s Page Multipurpose Room, and Sunday, Oct. 25, at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church. Tickets, which cost $10 for general admission (students are free), may be purchased at the door. For more information, please contact the music department at (805) 565-6040 or email music@westmont.edu.

Director Michael Shasberger, Adams professor for music and worship, says the concert will feature each instrument in a solo role as well as blend rich ensemble textures. “The central pieces on the program derive from dramatic balletic works by the Russian Alexander Glazunov and the American Aaron Copland,” Shasberger says. “Glazunov’s depiction of ‘Autumn’ is full of colorful imagery, shifting solos and duets that bring to the mind’s eye swirling and leaping dancers. Copland’s dramatic telling of the Billy the Kid story takes us from the cool quiet solitude of the prairie to a heated gun battle in a frontier town.”

Michael Shasberger speaks at his installation flanked by former provost Shirley Mullen and former president Stan Gaede in January 2006.

Michael Shasberger speaks at his installation flanked by former provost Shirley Mullen and former president Stan Gaede in January 2006.

The orchestra will also perform Dvorak’s “Carnival Overture” and Gee’s “To God Be the Glory.”

Shasberger arrived at Westmont in August 2005 and created two annual events: a fall choral festival featuring high school ensembles and a Christmas festival. In 2006, the Westmont Chamber Orchestra produced its first full season of concerts, touring with 24 student musicians. In 2007, the ensemble added a brass section and more strings for a total of 38 students. By November 2008 the orchestra grew to 52 student musicians, shedding the word “chamber” from its name.

Daniel Gee

Daniel Gee

“Every anniversary has its own charm and meaning,” Shasberger says, “but somehow a decade says something about durability, permanence and establishment. We started the Westmont Orchestra as an all-student ensemble with a vision and a commitment, and now it has proven to be a contributing member of the Santa Barbara arts community.

“The orchestra began with the hope and intention to make a statement about the sophistication of Westmont’s robust commitment to the liberal arts and to excellence, and for a decade it has affirmed that intention. The orchestra began with 16 members playing for an audience of 100 and is now at full strength of about 60 members playing annually for thousands in Santa Barbara and to many more on three continents over its 10-year history. It’s thrilling to be part of that journey.”

Music has been an important part of Shasberger’s life since childhood. His father directed the church choir, and he took up the trumpet at an early age. He majored in trumpet and voice at St. Olaf College in Minnesota and earned a doctorate at USC.