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Student musicians connect Hodgson School, Athens music scene

Alan Flurry

Great feature from our friends at the UGA Performing Arts Center about how Experiential learning at UGA gets students out of the classroom and into the world. In October, the UGA PAC and the Hugh Hodgson School of Music created a collaboration between the University of Georgia Symphony Orchestra and world-renowned Athens indie musician Kishi Bashi:

A sold-out concert at Hodgson Concert Hall with conductor Mark Cedel showcased Kishi Bashi’s singing, songwriting and multi-instrumental talents. It also put the 90 orchestra members outside their comfort zone, in a pop setting instead of their usual classical one. Kishi Bashi performed a dozen tunes from his catalog and even improvised a new tune with the orchestra—no sheet music, just call and response.

“It was great. It was a lot of fun,” said co-principal viola Ava Cosman. “Fun to play. Fun to be there. Fun to watch. Fun to have the audience involved like that. Good time.”

“I thought it was a huge success,” said Peter Jutras, director of the School of Music. “We’re reaching different audiences who may have different expectations of what they hear in the hall. I think it was great that a lot of people heard the orchestra that may have not heard the orchestra before, and they were incredibly appreciative of the orchestra.”

No one was more thrilled by the orchestra than Kishi Bashi himself. The artist, whose name is K. Ishibashi, has appeared with the St. Louis, Oregon and Virginia symphony orchestras. In this concert, he was visibly moved by the sweep and grandeur of the UGA Symphony.

“It was beyond what I expected,” Ishibashi said. “Honestly, I didn’t know how great the student symphony was. A lot of times professionals will have better instruments, so it’ll be better. But the UGA Symphony has graduate students, and they all had beautiful instruments. So, the string section sounded just as good. I thought it was really strong. They have some professional level players in there.”

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Image: UGA student and co-principal viola Ava Cosman in concert. (Photo by Francisco Cardoso of Easel Photography)

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