Last May, Maxwell Hicks was graduating from Abilene’s Cooper High School. Three and a half months later, he is practicing with the Hardin-Simmons University Orchestra for a performance with Michael Martin Murphey, best known for his 70’s pop hit, “Wildfire.”
Dr. Peter Isaacson is the driving force behind the Michael Martin Murphey concert. As director of the orchestra, this is the second time he has courted music legends, pairing his orchestra with both rock bands, like Kansas, and now folk, western, and pop artist, Michael Martin Murphey.
Murphey will be in Abilene this Saturday for the concert that begins at 8 p.m. in Behrens Auditorium on the HSU campus. He says the audience on Saturday is a bit of a surprise, with ticket sales to fans as far away as Washington State and New Jersey.
One of the challenges for the HSU Orchestra is playing music that is not typically played by musicians in an orchestra. Dean of the HSU School of Music, Dr. Bob Brooks, says it’s a valuable experience for the 50 student musicians, “This concert gives them real world experience, and it’s valuable for them to get to work with a performer who has been on the road for years, like Murphey.”
Max says he can’t help but be excited, but says there’s some real responsibility that he’s feeling right now. Some of the students in the orchestra who had not been at HSU during the Kansas concert in 2010 were a little surprised at some information Isaacson delivered during the fourth rehearsal. “Each one of you will be miked on Saturday during the concert. You are going to feel some real responsibility with that,” Isaacson told them. Each of the students’ mikes will feed into a console where all of the voices and instruments are mixed.
Isaacson says there are a number of challenges for the orchestra to blend with the very different instruments of the band. To make it all come together, the orchestra will be on risers three feet above the stage, which will be set up in Behrens Auditorium this afternoon.
But some of the orchestra members have been here before. Two years ago, Miranda Gibson, an oboe player from Allen, Texas, was a sophomore in the orchestra during the Kansas concert. She says even though the music is very different from the rock sound of Kansas, the concerts are similar in that the orchestra music will have to meld seamlessly with the amplified sound of Murphey and his band.
There was no doubt, however, that Colley was up for the job. As it turned out, he was the star of the show! This year, Colley is a junior in the role of concert master, as the lead violinist in the orchestra. On the night of the concert, Robert will be the violinist just to the left of the orchestra conductor. Colley’s performance can be found at this link.
Tickets are available for $26 dollars today in the Hemphill Music Complex on Cedar Street from 1:30 – 5:00 p.m. The box office opens in Behrens Auditorium on Saturday at noon for ticket sales. Doors will open at 7 p.m. with the concert to begin at 8 p.m., September 15, 2012.
Tickets can also be purchased at hsutx.thundertix.com. on the HSU website.