Matthieu Roy (left), executive director, and David Ek (right), vice-president logistics for the U of O Pop Orchestra. Photo: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik.
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Prepare to excite your inner child with music from Beethoven to Star Wars

Classical music geeks and nerds in general will have a lot to enjoy with the University of Ottawa Pop Orchestra’s winter concert on Monday, Dec. 5.

This student-run organization was founded in 2012, and specializes in playing a wider variety of music than your typical classical music program.

“We offer a repertoire that is different from the University of Ottawa’s repertoire,” said Matthieu Roy, the founder and executive director of the club, and a fifth-year student in music pedagogy. “It’s a pop orchestra, which encompasses every genre of music.”

For example, in their upcoming winter concert at St. Joseph’s Church the U of O Pop Orchestra will be performing six pieces of music. The first half of the night will feature strictly classical numbers like Ludwig Van Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9,” “Pavane” by Gabriel Fauré, and “Suite a l’Arèsienne, Farandole” by Georges Bizet.

During the second half of the show the orchestra will be performing decidedly more modern pieces of music, including the score from the animated short The Snowman, the “Anniversary Medley” from The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony, and the signature score from Star Wars: The Force Awakens by John Williams.

Although this group may not attract the conventional music student, the U of O Pop Orchestra doesn’t just let anyone in. According to David Ek, a fourth-year biomedical student and vice-president logistics of the club, if you want to join their ranks you have to survive a competitive audition process.

“We’re feeling a new level of playing that we’re reaching, and every year I feel like we’ve only been getting better and better,” said Ek.

“We are using (the auditions) to ensure that everyone has the best possible experience. We want to be musical, but we want to be a club as well.”  

Moving forward, the orchestra is hoping to garner interest from the larger community, and make themselves a viable option for students from any program who don’t have the chance to play in the music school ensembles.

“We want to insert ourselves, as far as playing level goes, underneath the university orchestra here, but (right) where graduates of the Ottawa Youth Orchestra can come and play,” said Roy.

The orchestra is also gearing up for a January performance at G-Anime, Gatineau’s annual anime convention, where they’ll be playing video game and anime music. A spring concert is also on the horizon, which will be centred around Canada’s 150th birthday.

The group is affiliated with the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), but, like with many other clubs on campus, funds have been drying up recently. Since the orchestra is costly to maintain, the group is in the process of severing their ties with the SFUO and becoming a non-profit based out of the school.

“One season costs us $15,000 dollars to operate, that covers equipment, transportation, advertising,” said Roy. “It’s very expensive to run and the SFUO cut off all of our funding.”

“Moving forward we’ve decided we’re going to separate from the SFUO this year … and that way we can have government funding,” Roy said.

The group is looking forward to their winter performance and hopes that new members will join their ranks.

“We understand that, relatively, we are a new club so not everyone knows about us,” said Ek. “(But) we want to make sure that people are aware that this is an opportunity for people coming out of high school or not studying music, that music can still be a part of their lives.”

The upcoming winter concert will be held at St. Joseph’s Church at 8 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 5. Admission is by a recommended donation of $10.


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