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Oregon Symphony and Portland Opera musicians and Willamette students prepare for their upcoming concert.Oregon Symphony and Portland Opera musicians and Willamette students prepare for their upcoming concert.

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    Professional Musicians Mentor Willamette Students

    Classical music fans who attend the upcoming University Chamber Orchestra concert may notice some different faces on the stage - musicians from the Oregon Symphony and Portland Opera playing alongside the students and Willamette faculty.

    The concert, which will feature three well-known works, including Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, is the culmination of a semester of collaboration between the professional musicians and Willamette's budding performers.

    The Oregon Symphony has partnered with Willamette since 1955 to bring its concerts to Salem and perform on the university campus - longer than any similar university and professional orchestra partnership in the country - but this is the first time the musicians have worked directly with Willamette students.

    Hekun Wu, associate professor of music and conductor of the University Chamber Orchestra, initiated the mentoring program this fall and hopes to make it an annual occurrence.

    "The Oregon Symphony and Portland Opera musicians discussed and provided invaluable bowings and fingerings for our students, conducted sectional rehearsals and gave valuable tips in terms of playing techniques for the specific pieces," Wu says.

    "I took the students to see the Oregon Symphony concert last month, where they played Beethoven's 7th Symphony. It was an inspiring experience for the students to hear the orchestra performing live the same piece that we are playing, and then to work on the piece with these seasoned professionals."

    Heather Shohet '11, a chemistry major and music minor who plays violin in the orchestra, said the mentoring from the professionals helped the students take on a piece that normally might be beyond their ability.

    "These musicians have probably played Beethoven's 7th Symphony over and over in their careers," Shohet says. "They have many great ideas about bowing, articulation and phrasing that are helpful to us as students. Not only am I learning new things about performing, but I'm also really enjoying the full sound produced by our usually small ensemble."

    The University Chamber Orchestra concert is Thursday, Nov. 19, at 7:30 p.m. in Hudson Hall. Admission is free. Besides Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, the orchestra will perform J.S. Bach's "Air" from the Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, and Mahler's "Kindertotenlieder" with mezzo-soprano Allison Swenson-Mitchell, a faculty soloist.