Cancelled orchestra concert rescheduled

Erin Snodgrass

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The Loyola Symphony Orchestra was scheduled and ready to perform their final, and only, concert of the semester on Sunday, April 30 when inclement weather interfered.

Sunday morning saw heavy rainstorms and flood warnings for metro New Orleans and tornado warnings for parts of Southeast Louisiana until around 3 p.m.

According to Camila Casaw, music therapy senior, all 80 members of the orchestra were dressed in their performance attire and rehearsing in Roussel Hall when they were notified by their conductor, Jean Montes, that the concert had been canceled.

The performers arrived for their dress rehearsal at 1 p.m. Casaw says they had been practicing for about 20 minutes when Montes received a phone call from Kern Maass, the dean of the College of Music and Fine Arts, notifying him of the possibility that the concert might be canceled. The orchestra continued to rehearse.

“But then he got another call, about 30 minutes before the concert, saying that the concert was canceled. We were all set to start, so that was really hard,” Casaw said.

Maass, who has only been at Loyola since February, said after Sunday they are actively reviewing the process and protocol for situations like these. In the end, Maass said the decision came down to public safety.

“I ultimately made the final decision; it was made with conversations with multiple stakeholders in the process,” Maass said. “The first thing I did was immediately reach out to University Communications to see what the protocol was. Being that it was Sunday, mid-day, I didn’t get any response back from the people involved, like emergency services, until after I made the decision.”

After the announcement was made, performers and attendees who had already arrived were sent home.

“Since it was the last concert, a lot of the students’ parents were there, too,” Casaw said.

One student who had family members come to town for the event is music composition junior Avery Bell, the winner of the Orchestral Composition competition, a school-wide competition in which students submit a full length orchestral composition. Bell’s winning piece was to be performed for the first time at the concert. His mom drove in from Texas to see the performance.

“It was my biggest musical achievement by a pretty huge margin,” Bell said about the additional disappointment.

Casaw, as a graduating senior, was especially upset at the prospect of losing her final Loyola musical performance.

“It’s not like an art exhibit where you can showcase the pictures for a certain period of time. We have one hour to showcase what we do, and we couldn’t,” Casaw said.

The concert, which students had been preparing for all semester, was also set to feature two other student contest winners and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, award winning violinist and artist in residence.

Coming as a surprise to some, student performers received an email on Monday, May 1 stating that the concert had been rescheduled for Saturday, May 6 at 7:30 p.m. in Roussel Hall. This concert will not feature Salerno-Sonnenberg and will be free.

Maass said that student response and feedback about the cancelation, as well as conversations with conductor Jean Montes, played influencing roles in efforts to reschedule.

“I absolutely understand the students’ frustrations and all the hard work they put into that. They deserve an outlet for that. I think we would always look to do that, regardless of hearing their feedback,” Maass said.

Both Bell and Casaw were surprised to receive news that the concert had been rescheduled. Bell, however, had mixed emotions about the new concert date. His piece will still be performed, but his mom won’t be able to attend, and some of his instrumentalists, for whom he had written specific parts, aren’t able to make the rescheduled concert.

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“I’m glad it is getting played this semester, but the fact that it is hastily rescheduled, and people can’t make it, means that the end result isn’t going to be as good as it once was,” Bell said.

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