Southern's Symphony Orchestra Reaches 100-Member Milestone


This year, Southern Adventist University has the largest Symphony Orchestra in its history with 100 members, including the conductor, Laurie Redmer Cadwallader.

“I think it’s reputation,” Cadwallader says of the growth. “Once you show kids what the possibilities are…they follow through.”

Students cite a number of reasons they enjoy being in the orchestra. Senior music performance major Tommy Crabtree says, “The best thing the orchestra has given me is an appreciation for what’s around me.”

Emily White, a junior music theory and literature major, says, “My favorite part of orchestra is, not only performances and rehearsing, but tours.” She explains that the orchestra is “something that I’m privileged to be a part of…It’s been a fantastic experience.”

The orchestra tours regularly, spreading its influence across the globe. Last year, the orchestra traveled to California and performed at a number of locations, including five academies. In the past couple of years, the orchestra has participated in a number of high-level performances. Last year they performed for a crowd of conductors during the College Orchestra Directors Association National Conference and earned a standing ovation. This year, the orchestra played with Grammy Award winner David Phelps, tenor from the Gaither Vocal Band, at A Taste of Southern, a yearly fundraising gala for the school.

One of the orchestra’s defining characteristics is the atmosphere that develops. Since there are new students each year, the “orchestra has never played together before,” according to Cadwallader. Throughout the year, the musicians grow closer as a group and create friendships that last.

“It’s more than just being in a class with someone. You go through the same things together,” explains Tristan Ramey, senior English education major. “Being in orchestra allows me to connect with students that I might not otherwise meet.”

Katelyn Snyder, junior music major, describes that camaraderie “comes from playing together and working through difficult music together.” The orchestra organically fosters a community that students cherish.

“The orchestra’s size and caliber is what sets Southern apart from other schools,” says Crabtree, adding that “the orchestra isn’t the music, it’s the people…It feels like my family now, and I can’t leave my family.”

From the touring experiences to the sense of community, being part of the orchestra provides students with valuable opportunities, which is one reason for its growth. White explains, “Joining orchestra was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

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