Beneath the rain clouds on Friday, Feb. 24 and Sunday, Feb. 26, members of the 5C community gathered to watch the Pomona College Orchestra (PCO) Concert program at Bridges Hall of Music.
The orchestra took the audience on a journey through Nicolai’s “Overture The Merry Wives of Windsor,” Mozart’s “Flute Concerto No. 2 in D major” and “Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70.”
Eric Lindholm is a professor and conductor of music and orchestra at Pomona College and the organizer of the program.
“It’s my responsibility to select the music that we’ll work on and to devise the rehearsal schedule,” Lindholm said.
Lindholm’s construction of the set list for this concert takes inspiration from the roots of traditional orchestra classics. For instance, the orchestra had not played Dvořák for over a decade.
“As one of the big names, it was good to get back to him,” Lindhold said. “The program was unusual for us in that the repertoire was all mainstream.”
For PCO member Ainhoa Bezerra-Gastesi PO ’25, her favorite piece to play from this program is Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7.
“It incorporates many different motifs and mixes of slow and fast sections, which makes it very enjoyable to play,” Bezerra-Gastesi said.
Lindholm takes feedback from members of the orchestra to curate the music list. This semester, the orchestra students chose to switch things up.
“In the past few concerts of the PCO, we played a lot of contemporary and modern pieces and we requested to have some more Romantic and Classical [era] pieces this semester,” Bezerra-Gastesi said.
The PCO rehearses twice a week and holds two programs each semester. In terms of planning for this particular event, the PCO opened up the orchestra to musicians outside of the 5C student body to create a full ensemble.
“It’s amazing that early humans, who were plenty busy, made time to craft and play sophisticated musical instruments as a way of bonding and expressing themselves artistically.”
The PCO has a long-standing tradition as a pivotal creative outlet for students, faculty and staff of the community. Lindholm perceives this program as a community-building activity.
“It’s amazing that early humans, who were plenty busy, made time to craft and play sophisticated musical instruments as a way of bonding and expressing themselves artistically,” Lindholm said.
To Lindholm, this lore extends to today’s conception and meaning of music at the 5Cs, saying it fosters a sense of community through a shared musical experience.
“The students in our orchestra have worked hard to be able to share this part of themselves with our audiences, and the experience of performing is much more meaningful when someone else is listening,” Lindholm said.
For attendee Amara Mir PO ’25, the program fosters a sense of musical respite through community building.
“It’s a time for me to cheer on my friends and see their practice come to fruition,” Mir said. “The concert brings people from different backgrounds together to immerse in music.”
According to Bezerra-Gastesi, orchestra means building community through a passion for music.
“I love playing the violin and sharing the music we make with both the 5C community and the larger Claremont community,” Bezerra-Gastesi said.
In general, the PCO strives to pursue diversification strategies within music. Namely, the Orchestra typically plays music by a composer from an under-represented or marginalized group.
“Our program last October featured five composers of Latin American heritage,” Lindholm said.
The PCO looks forward to collaborating with the Pomona College Choir later this semester in joint concerts on April 14 and 16. Due to the pandemic, the two musical groups could only use a limited number of members in the concert.
“This is the first time in four years that both ensembles will be together at full strength,” Lindholm said.
The program will consist of two mainstream composers, Haydn and Brahms, and two lesser-known composers, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel and Florence Price. Price is the first Black composer to have a symphony performed by a major American orchestra. The PCO plans to continue this narrative to cultivate an inclusive community in the future.