In tune with the RCC orchestra

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By Eui-jo Marquez

By Eui-jo Marquez

The average student wandering the walkways of Riverside City College may be surprised to find that the Digital Library Auditorium plays host to at least two live music performances every week.

If you’re looking to rock out, you may have to adjust your tastes for these concerts. But step into the auditorium on any given Tuesday or Thursday and you may find that Bach, Beethoven and Shostakovich can jam harder than any modern band. RCC music students are required to perform in recitals, providing a plethora of opportunities for live music appreciation by members of the local community.

They’re students, so don’t expect the L.A. Philharmonic, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by some of the more advanced musicians like flute players Crystal Ferrer and Justin Myers, who performed on Nov. 7.

Justin Myers played with assertiveness and grace. It’s obvious he is passionate about playing and Mozart would surely have been pleased.

Crystal Ferrer performed Mozart as well. A member of the RCC Symphony Orchestra, she also performed at the group’s concert on Nov.14 at the All Saints Episcopal Church.

RCC’s Symphony Orchestra is a community group consisting of 40 instrumentalists. All members are volunteers and must enroll in the course, but only six are full-time students. Members range in age from college freshmen through retired people in their 70s.

“They have regular jobs and families, but on Tuesday nights, instead of watching TV, they come and do this,” said Kevin Mayse, conductor for the Symphony Orchestra and RCC instructor of 11 years.

Studying music is intense. Many people erroneously believe that music majors have it easy.

“Our best students are probably practicing six to eight hours a day,” Mayse said.

RCC’s music program has a strong tradition of excellence and attracts many students from the local area– and farther. Ferrer, who has been studying flute since junior high, came from Anaheim and will finish her required courses this semester.

The other RCC students in the Symphony Orchestra are Alan Burton on French horn, Nate Haessley and Carlos Noriega on trumpet, Frank Michel on timpani and Jameson Tucker on violin.

Although studying music at the college level is difficult and most students have been playing since elementary school, there are options for novices. RCC offers beginner classes in piano, guitar and voice.

The field of professional musicians is very competitive but there are other avenues for music lovers.

“That’s why I love the orchestra. These people may not have been music majors but they love to play their instruments,” said Mayse.

We have several excellent venues for music in this area: the Riverside County Philharmonic, the Redlands Symphony and the San Bernardino Symphony. But compared to L.A., it’s not a lot.

“I force myself to drive into L.A. to keep my ears going to make sure I’m hearing creative music. 50 miles away are some of the greatest musicians in the entire world,” Mayse said.

For those who can’t afford tickets or the gas money to L.A., the Live-On-Campus Concert Series may be the perfect alternative. Between the clarinet, strings, voice, piano and more, there’s something for everyone.

For under $10 you can hear James Moody at the Vocal Jazz Concert on Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. or the Wind Ensemble on Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. More information about these shows and many others can be found at in the calendar section.

If you find yourself walking past the Digital Library around 12:50 p.m. with nothing to do, check it out. Or else you might miss out on something you’ll love. 

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