The Blog @
Southern Virginia University

Posts with the tag: Music

  1. Firebird, Fiddler and Group Groove

    December 10, 2015

    Last month’s orchestra concert brought something called ‘group groove’ to my mind. I was introduced to the concept of group groove as a sophomore playing in the Southern Virginia University Orchestra. It came up while the orchestra worked on some groovy selections from George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess,” but it applies to all kinds of music, groovy or not. The concept is simple. It’s about the ensemble appropriately feeling and getting into the music, whatever the style, as they perform it. It’s kind of the “play” side of performance.

    In last month’s concert the orchestra tackled a large amount of challenging repertoire, including the “Finale” from Stravinsky’s “The Firebird,” a suite from “Fiddler on the Roof,” the first movement of Haydn’s C Major Cello Concerto — with the cello solo played expertly by Katie DeLaMare — and Sibelius’s tone poem “Finlandia.” The breadth of this concert’s literature offered lots of different “grooves” into which the orchestra could find purchase. “The Firebird” celebrated rebirth, awakening and renewal, while “Fiddler on the Roof” evoked messages of faith, joy and sorrow within families and that sometimes undeniable urge just to stand up and dance. Other pieces were stately, foreboding, graceful or often a mix of several different attitudes.

    What I enjoyed most about this concert was how the group grooved in so many different styles. It fit the music. It kind of was the music.

    (Post by Stephen Taylor ’15. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’15.)

  2. Institute’s Got Talent 2015

    November 4, 2015

    The Institute recently hosted a talent show in which Southern Virginia students and faculty alike got to broadcast their wicked talents. The talent show has become a newborn tradition and provides yet another outlet at the university for creative expression. I’m so grateful to attend a school that nurtures hobbies, talents and arts of all sorts, and where the students never seem satisfied with the status quo.

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’15.)

  3. Homecoming Art Show & Concert

    October 16, 2015

    I find it quite delightful that my favorite time of year — especially here in Virginia, where trees compete in a beauty pageant each fall — is also the designated season to host one of my favorite collegiate events: Homecoming. I’m sure Homecoming holds even more charm for the many alumni who return to a campus full of memories and to reunite with friends, but even those of us for whom Southern Virginia is still home can sense the camaraderie and spirit of this particular weekend.

    Friday evening, I had the opportunity to meander through the Corridor Gallery and admire an exhibit featuring Southern Virginia’s Tucson House, the building in which all of our artists make their mark. The exhibit was produced by student and art major Megan Reynolds, who is currently serving a full-time mission in Texas.

    I spoke to Professor Doug Himes about Megan’s work, and he informed me that she completed the work over a year ago and that it’s the result of a semester’s worth of work and effort. And let me tell you — it paid off. Granted, my artistic skill is limited to the realm of stick figures, but I think it safe to say I can admire alongside the best of them, and Megan’s work is truly admirable. What I found most impressive is that each one of her pieces had its own mood and unique perspective that set it apart from the rest, though all were images of the same building. Her use of various watercolors and her undoubtedly deliberate choices of content helped distinguish them and make them beautiful as individual pieces as well as part of a whole.

    Following the exhibit, the Southern Virginia Orchestra, Concert Chorale, Bella Voce, and a flute trio performed in the annual Homecoming Concert. It was perhaps one of the most diverse and enthralling concerts I’ve been to at the university, featuring everything from “A Hebrew Welcome” to Les Miserables’s “Bring Him Home.” This last one was especially wonderful, since it featured one of the university’s new faculty members, Dr. Eric Hanson, as soloist. Hanson came to Southern Virginia as an assistant professor of music after having led an incredible career in both education and performance, and his experience is evident. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard such a magnificent tenor voice live, and it was, to put it simply, a pleasure. I’m very excited to hear more from Dr. Hanson and to see how his tenure at Southern Virginia will continue to bless the music program.

    Of course, the best part of a Southern Virginia concert is always a rendition of “Shenandoah.” As alumni hurried from the audience to join those onstage and sing the song that no Southern Virginia graduate can feel impartial toward, I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt incredibly grateful to be a part of this university and to be amongst these people. This is most definitely a unique, lovely place nestled in the Shenandoah Valley, this school of ours.

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’15. Graphic by Cameron Burgoyne ’15.)

  4. The Hunts Return to Southern Virginia

    September 2, 2015

    Anyone who knows me also knows that I do very little without the accompaniment of music. I wake up, and it’s on. I hop in the car, and the first thing I do is plug in that auxiliary cord. I never exercise, get ready for the day, or work without some kind of musical companionship, whether it be that of Phoenix or Sinatra or New Order.

    So, the opportunity to finally see The Hunts play live after having heard so much about them since arriving at Southern Virginia was one that I could not pass up. The Hunts are a charismatic (and stylish: seriously, look at them) family of seven musicians from the Chesapeake, Va., area. Now on their most expansive tour yet, they returned to Southern Virginia, where they’ve played multiple times in years past and where they were welcomed back as old friends.

    One of the most obvious charms of The Hunts is the familial way they… exist. They all sing, they all play, they give shout-outs to their parents and tease each other on stage. They’re irresistibly homegrown — they “play” a dining room chair, for Pete’s sake. Call me old-fashioned, but I would find it impossible to dislike such down-to-earth and charming people.

    Throw in the fact that their music is so enjoyable that I’ve listened to it every day since, and their appeal is even greater. Reminiscent of the folk feel of The Lumineers or The Head and the Heart but with an incredible classical violin influence, The Hunts have created a sound that can induce excited clapping and stomping while making you want to just lean back and close your eyes and feel.

    And, of course, the appreciation they obviously have for Southern Virginia endears them to the university community even more. Sharing stories about beloved Southern Virginia “Green Machine” shirts and fond memories of our campus, The Hunts made it quite clear to us that though we were all there to see them, they were happy to see us again, too.

    If you haven’t listened to their music, do. If you haven’t seen this video, do. And if you ever have the chance to see them live, take it. You’ll be amazed by their talent and stunned by their charm, and I can almost guarantee that you’ll wish you could be their best friend. Such is the nature of this special family.

    For more information, head to

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’15.)

  5. ‘Bells Are Ringing’ at Southern Virginia

    June 10, 2015

    I’m as much a fan of cordless phones and instant messaging as the next person — partially because I have a habit of tripping over cords in general, but also for the obvious convenience of the thing — but taking a step into the 1950’s and the world of answering phone services and phone booths in “Bells Are Ringing” wasn’t only refreshing but delightful.

    Of course, there are a few mix-ups that could be prevented by the invention of instant messaging and cell phones, and by “a few” I mean all of them, but that’s part of the charm of the story. These characters have to get out of their scrapes without caller ID and Google, and they do so through hilarity, sincerity, and, well, a lot of singing.

    “Bells Are Ringing” features some of the most quirky and fun musical numbers that I’ve heard at Southern Virginia and is so well suited to the talent that we have here. From the very first number, the adeptness and skill of the ensemble is apparent, and numbers like “Better Than A Dream” seal the deal: this is one great show.

    And it’s not made any less by the quality of its secondary characters. The ensemble members have taken it upon themselves to create personalities for every one of their characters, and folk like Heidi Glauser’s Gwynne Smith and John-John Leake’s Carl contribute to the play’s charisma.

    The talent onstage is complemented by the beauty of said stage. The set embraces the era and creates just the right ambiance for the quirky, unique show. The accordion-like pullout walls add a neat layer of dimension, and, to put it frankly, it’s just awesome. Go see it.

    Needless to say, the hard work invested in this play in the past three and half weeks (yes, you read that correctly: three and a half) by the nearly 30 cast members, the crew, and all the other contributors seems to have been very much worthwhile.

    If two sold-out performances are any indication, this is a play you won’t want to miss, so be sure to buy tickets for this week’s Thursday or Saturday performance (Friday’s already sold out), or both. That’s cool, too.

    Tickets for “Bells Are Ringing” are $10 for the general public and $7 for Southern Virginia faculty, staff and students. Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling 540-261-8464, or at the door prior to each performance.

    For more information, check out this news article.

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos by Leigh Stoddard.)