Wabash College

Chamber orchestra to make music again

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The Wabash College Chamber Orchestra will resume making music after one-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

They will practice 4:15-5:15 p.m. every Monday in the Fine Arts Center in preparation for a concert Dec. 12.

The orchestra consists of college students as well as musicians from the surrounding community. The orchestra welcomes anyone — professionals and amateurs. It is directed by Alfred Abel, who teaches violin and viola at Wabash College. Since Abel became director, it has increased its numbers.

Abel was recruited as director by Dr. Lawrence Bennett. Bennett was the head of the music department at that time and currently professor of music emeritus at Wabash College. They used to play a string quartet together.

“Something about the way I comported myself in [the string quartet] rehearsal led him to believe that I might be a likely candidate for conducting the orchestra,” Abel said.

Abel had already conducted three orchestras, the Wabash Valley Youth Symphony, the Indianapolis Youth Orchestra and the Indianapolis Youth Symphony. However, he was happy to accept that position.

“I thought it would be an interesting challenge to conduct the Wabash College Chamber Orchestra,” Abel said.

Abel believes he has three goals for the orchestra. First, he tries to perform the great works of Western classical music with the available group of people. He also tries to make the orchestra available to people of diverse abilities and instrumentation.

“But my [main] goal was to make it possible for students at Wabash to play great symphonic works that they might never again have a chance to perform,” he said.

The most important goal is arranging music for the orchestra, but not spoiling the original beauty of the music. He sometimes makes a new part that would allow certain players to participate in making music, who might otherwise not be able to do it.

“I do a lot of arranging,” he said. “I write what I call ‘Frankenstein parts.’”

Abel believes the unique thing about the orchestra is it has a strong component of civic players to play symphonies. He thinks that Wabash College has a strong and vibrant orchestra program that deserves the full support of both the college and the community.

Many people are looking forward to playing in the orchestra again. Bennett is one of those who will participate as a second violinist.

“I just hope that everybody stays healthy and the orchestra is able to flourish,” he said.

For more information about the orchestra, contact Abel by calling 317-920-9237 or emailing alfredsabel@gmail.com.

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