Howard University Orchestra prepares for spring concert

Musicians a part of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra on their stage. Macek has been a part of the Orchestra since 1986. (Photo Courtesy of the Kennedy Center)

By Autumn Coleman

On April 12, the Howard University’s Symphony Orchestra will have their spring semester concert on Howard’s campus.

The concert will allow orchestra musicians to showcase their skills after a semester of practice. This marks the orchestra’s first performance with a full wind section, as the Orchestra dealt with challenges following the global pandemic. 

“The pandemic honestly hit us really hard,” Timothy Macek, the director and conductor of the HU Orchestra, said. 

Members of the HU Orchestra during one of their Saturday morning practices for their upcoming performance. Wind and string sections follow the direction of Professor Macek. (Autumn Coleman/ HU News Service)

“There was a better part of a year when we couldn’t rehearse at all because you can’t rehearse remotely. Even with the various software solutions that there are, they don’t work well. 

Members of the Howard University Orchestra said that the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted them, as mask mandates and social distancing affected their ability to rehearse collectively. 

“The orchestra is a full symphonic orchestra this semester,” said Darren Roberts, a senior cello performance major from Long Island, New York, who has been in the HU Orchestra for the last six semesters. “It’s the first time since I’ve been here that we had that.”

Timothy Macek utilizes his own violin skills to go in-depth on a portion of the musical selection. Members of the violin section take his instruction. (Autumn Coleman /HU News Service)

Macek has been working with the HU Orchestra since 1998. In addition to his work at Howard University, he has been a violinist for the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra since 1986. 

“I really, really like Professor Macek,” said Piper Menser, who plays the viola in the orchestra. “He’s not so strict on the players like other conductors I’ve had. It’s easy to connect with him in the whole orchestra because he is so personable.”

The Howard University Symphony Orchestra is different from other bands on campus, as many of their members are considered “community players,” meaning they are not students at Howard but participate and attend practices for the orchestra.

“Having the outside players helps a lot because then we get all of the sound,” Menser said. “We get the full beauty of the music that we get to play.”

Rin-Rin Yu is an employee of Howard University and a member of the HU Orchestra wind section. As a “community player,” Yu does not receive a grade for her involvement in the Orchestra, unlike the students involved. 

“I play the flute, so I joined the HU Orchestra to get back into playing,” Yu said. “It’s been great working with everyone and being in the environment that Macek creates for the musicians.”