Puerto Rico welcomes TCU Symphony

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    The TCU music department vows to contribute to the cultural enrichment of the global society, according to the College of Fine Arts Web site.Mission accomplished.

    The TCU Symphony Orchestra returned late Wednesday after participating in the Festival Iberoamericano de las Artes, a monthlong festival that featured opera, choir, jazz, theater, dance and other artistic performances from around the world in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said orchestra director Germ n Guti‚rrez.

    “It’s huge,” Guti‚rrez said. “It’s really a big festival.”

    Music graduate student Vince Gerrish said the chance to learn about the music and culture of another country made the trip a worthwhile experience.

    “I can’t even say how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to play in front of an international audience,” Gerrish said.

    Sophomore music major Lauren Novak said the exposure to another culture will be evident in future orchestra performances.

    “We brought our music there, and now we get to bring their music back with us,” Novak said.

    The trip gave students the opportunity to experience the language, dancing, geography and especially the music native to Puerto Rico, Novak said.

    “There were so many people that played Latin American instruments that I had never heard before,” Novak said. “I got a lot out of it from that perspective.”

    Guti‚rrez said he knew the cultural experiences would be of great value to the students who attended.

    “The students not only performed, they were immersed in another culture,” Guti‚rrez said.

    The director of the festival asked the group to perform after attending one of its concerts at TCU, Guti‚rrez said.

    “It was a very prestigious invitation,” Guti‚rrez said. “To invite a university orchestra was a challenge. There were great expectations, and I think we surpassed those expectations.”

    Orchestra members said they did not take the opportunity for granted.

    “We are blessed to have such a great music program at TCU,” Gerrish said.

    He said he was grateful for the generous contributions TCU made that allowed them to play. TCU and American Airlines covered the travel expenses for the group.

    “For the orchestra to travel abroad, it was not only fun and exciting,” Gerrish said, “but having the experience to perform, rehearse and represent TCU was an honor.”

    Gerrish said the orchestra had a limited amount of time to learn the pieces it performed, but accomplishing that challenge helped to strengthen the abilities of the performers.

    “As a musician, it is a good feeling,” Gerrish said. “It definitely helped me to develop my music skills.”

    Novak said the exposure to music native to Puerto Rico helped renew her appreciation for the art.

    “One thing we learned is that music in Latin America is very different from music here,” Novak said. “The people who play in the streets or in the clubs can be amazing. Music is supposed to be fun. That’s something I took away from there.”

    The group of 90, including the orchestra and faculty members, spent a week in Puerto Rico, performing in both Ponce and San Juan, Guti‚rrez said.

    The orchestra performances consisted of four pieces specifically put together for the festival, Guti‚rrez said. One was composed for the cuatro, the national instrument of Puerto Rico, and another featured a guest soloist from Puerto Rico.

    Gerrish said the audience had a positive response to its performance, particularly when Guti‚rrez, who is a native of Colombia, spoke to the audience in Spanish.

    “The choice of music had a lot to do with how the performance went and how the audience accepted it,” Gerrish said.

    Novak said he agreed.

    I thought we were very well received,” Novak said. “We played a lot of Latin American pieces that were easily recognized by the people we performed for.”

    Guti‚rrez said he was pleased with the orchestra’s performances throughout the week.

    “The concerts were up to the expected level of professionals,” he said.