Student conductor brings 1876 to life

Taneeka Hansen

On Tuesday, April 26 the music department will host the final performance of the Divertimento Chamber Orchestra with senior conductor Jackson Maberry before he heads off to Cambridge University for a masters in choral conducting.

Maberry is a senior music major who began conducting the Divertimento ensemble first semester of his junior year. One of the pieces which will be performed is his thesis, an 1876 overture by Elfrida Andree, which Maberry is turning into a modern performance edition score. The other pieces include a choral requiem by Whitman composer Emily Allen and two violin concertos.

“This is my first semester doing [work with soloists],” said Maberry of the concertos. “It’s a unique challenge to do a concerto, or part of a concerto, because all of a sudden you don’t have sole interpretive authority, you’re sharing interpretive authority with the soloist.”

Josh Melander, the first-year violin soloist in for the ensemble’s performance of Beethoven’s violin concerto in D major, also noted the difficulty of joining soloist with orchestra.

“Usually in putting together a soloist and an orchestra, most of the rehearsal time is spent … making sure that the soloist and the orchestra are on the same page,” said Melander. “And, so far I think Jackson has done a great job accommodating all of the things that I’ve decided to do with it.”

It is not a simple piece to interpret.

“The notes are … not technically difficult, but the more that I worked on it the more I realized that there are just so many possibilities in how to execute the pieces and what kind of musical picture I want to paint with it,” said Maberry.

Senior vocalist McKenna Milici, who will also perform at the concert, has worked with Maberry several times during his conducting career.

“Jackson started out just learning it, and really turned into quite a competent conductor. It’s really cool to get to see his journey as an artist,” said Milici.

For Maberry, that learning process is a large part of what has made working with Divertimento so fulfilling.

“With each passing [Divertimento] concert that I have done, I have seen, both in the ensemble and in myself, mostly in myself, great improvement,” said Maberry.   “The orchestra’s always been fantastic, but I don’t think I would have ever learned as much about conducting if it weren’t for working with these players.”

While a choral conducting major he will pursue is a departure from his primarily orchestral repertoire, Millici has great faith in his abilities.

“We’re all just super thrilled for him,” said Milici. “He’s got the perfect combination of good conducting technique and sheer charisma; that is pretty much the two things you need to be a conductor.”

Wherever he goes from here, it is safe to say that Maberry will take his time with Divertimento with him.

“The entire experience of working with this orchestra has just been one big best moment of my life,” said Maberry. “Every second of it is magical.”

The concert will take place on Tuesday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Chism Hall.