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Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra opens season, never-before-heard piece

GTNS photo by Gretchen Teske

The Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra opened their 68th season with a performance at Iowa Wesleyan University Chapel. The orchestra performed a never-before-heard piece, composed by Robert Tindle.
GTNS photo by Gretchen Teske The Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra opened their 68th season with a performance at Iowa Wesleyan University Chapel. The orchestra performed a never-before-heard piece, composed by Robert Tindle.

Audiences at Iowa Wesleyan Chapel were privy to something never heard before, as the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra opened its 68th season by featuring a newly composed piece by guest composer, 22-year-old Robert Tindle.

The Iowa Wesleyan Chapel stage was overflowing with strings, woodwinds and percussion as Tindle, a graduate student at Witchita State, performed with the orcestra during their three individual concerts in Burlington, Ottumwa and Mt. Pleasant. On Sunday, Oct. 21, the symphony perform their October concert series, “Great American Composers” in Mt. Pleasant.

Tindle’s latest work, “Grid for Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra,” was commissioned by the orchestra. He comes from a musical family and has been playing the piano since the age of three.

“My parents started me early and I stuck with it,” he said.

Tindle “stuck” with music by composing over 50 orchestra works, some while he was still in high school. At Sunday night’s performance, Tindle’s latest work made its world premiere, an experience that Tindle described as coming with mixed emotions.

“It’s scary, but it’s also very exciting,” he said. “Being out here for a couple of rehearsals to work with the orchestra helps a lot with my security knowing it’s going to sound the way I want it to, but the scariest thing is seeing how the audience reacts.”

Music Director Robert McConnell said the orchestra only met for five rehearsals before their weekend tour of shows. He said the orchestra received their music in late September to give them time to learn it but they did not hear how Tindle’s piece would sound until the first rehearsal when they all played it together. Because the orchestra premiered the piece, there was no way for the orchestra to listen to a recording.

“It’s fun to do a piece like that that is so unfamiliar,” he said.

McConnell said choosing the music for each concert is a carefully crafted process that includes three main factors: finding music that is interesting to the musicians and audience, the level of difficulty of the piece and the cost of buying or renting the music for all 65 orchestra members.

“It’s kind of like a jigsaw puzzle in some ways because you have a lot of requirements and everything has to fit together really well,” he said.

Executive Director Jeffrey Phillips said that being able to have Tindle at the concert to perform his own piece with the orchestra made for a special experience because it created a personal relationship between composer and audience.

“It’s fantastic if we perform some famous piece by Beethoven but he’s not here and we don’t have that personal connection,” he said. “To see somebody young is exciting and it kind of makes it a little more accessible and a little more real.”