José-Luis Novo, Interim Director of Orchestral Activities
The University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra (UMSO) is one of the nation’s finest collegiate orchestras, providing its members with the tools they need to enter the evolving world of music as inventive and engaged proponents for their art. All wind, brass and percussion players rotate between UMSO and the UMD Wind Orchestra every four-week concert period. With these shifts, the musicians learn to quickly adapt to a variety of musical situations.
Known for its cutting-edge performances, UMSO searches for new ways to vitalize the presentation classical music in concert. This progressive approach uncovers a renewed depth of meaning in the traditional orchestral repertoire for both musicians and audiences alike. Recent interdisciplinary performances and collaborations include:
The Petrushka Project (2008): UMSO collaborated with designer Doug Fitch in a multi-dimensional setting of Stravinsky’s Petrushka. The performance used puppetry, live videography, choreography of the orchestra itself and costumes to evoke a Russian street fair in wintertime. The Petrushka Project was adapted for the New York Philharmonic, and received its debut at Lincoln Center on the Philharmonic’s final concert of the 2012-2013 season, “A Dancer’s Dream.”
Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun with movement design by Liz Lerman (2012): This performance explored the connection between movement and music, specifically, how that connection facilitates communication in a colorful, nuanced performance.
Britten’s Les Illuminations with projections and design: The surreal story of personal growth and discovery conveyed in French poet Arthur Rimbaud’s Les Illuminations were animated through projections and design by Doug Fitch and Tim McLoraine.
The UMSO experience is further enriched through residencies and collaborations with esteemed musicians and ensembles, including:
- A year-long residency with members of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra that culminated in a performance.
- A week-long residency with The National Symphony Orchestra that culminated in a side-by-side concert at both the Clarice Smith Center and the Kennedy Center.
- A week-long residency with the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra that culminated in a side-by-side concert at the Clarice Smith Center and Maryland Hall for the Performing Arts.
- Verdi’s Messa da Requiem with soloists Sharon Sweet, Delores Ziegler, Benjamin Warschawski and James Morris
- Schumann’s Paradise and the Peri led by Paul Goodwin as the culminating event of UMD’s acclaimed Schumann Festival
UMSO Concerto Competition
The UMSO sponsors an annual concerto competition for students of the School of Music, awarding concert appearances and cash prizes. The winner performs as featured soloist with the UMSO at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.