The Cornell Tour Orchestra is comprised of 36 passionate and talented student musicians from both the Cornell Chamber and Symphony Orchestras, led by their beloved director, and acclaimed conductor Chris Younghoon Kim. As part of the Cornell Orchestras, they boast a broad repertoire in symphonic and chamber music - ranging from 17th century French ballet to modern guitar concertos - which has made them five-time winners of the ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, presented to orchestras whose repertoires possess a balance and variety of pieces, including contemporary work.
One of Kim’s main motivations in being an orchestra director is his desire to involve his students in musical discussions, encouraging students to look at and play music in new and different ways. His divergence from the typical top-down approach to an orchestra allows for a fuller exploration and understanding of repertoire and allows for personal growth as both a solo and orchestral musician.
Kim and his orchestra members have had the pleasure of collaborating with renowned figures in the musical word, including Leon Fleischer, Christopher Hogwood, and the Solisti Ensemble.
The Tour will take place in San Juan, Puerto Rico from January 13 to January 20, 2014. Organized by Kim and the orchestra members, it will consist of a series of three concerts played in collaboration with students at the Conservatoria de Musica de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music) and several visits to local high schools for orchestra members to spread their love, knowledge, and experiences in music to younger students. These collaborations will allow the Cornell musicians the opportunity to truly appreciate the beauty of the common culture of music in an otherwise foreign and new city.
In addition, the shared experience of exploring and appreciating a new culture will help bring Kim’s orchestra members even closer together, a fact which he firmly believes is invaluable and will positively affect their musical communication and orchestral playing. He believes that experiencing this tour together will go a long way into “opening relationships and bonding a group together” and that making music with close friends will make a large difference in the orchestra’s musicianship after the tour.
The typical Cornell Orchestra musician is not a music major. Though there are music majors in the orchestras, the majority of students, both undergraduate and graduate, focus their studies elsewhere. The orchestra consists of students from all twelve colleges, majoring in subjects ranging from English and Art History to Mechanical Engineering and Microbiology. Without their common love for music and Kim’s biweekly rehearsals and rigorous concert schedule, these students might not have ever encountered each other. However, the orchestra community consists of some of the strongest bonds forged in these students’ college careers, and Kim hopes to strengthen these bonds and create new ones during this shared experience in Puerto Rico.
What You Can Do
The pursuit of a musically educational, personally fulfilling, and overall enjoyable tour experience does not come without a price. Even with well-appreciated donations from groups such as the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, and support from the Cornell University Music Department, the students of the Tour Orchestra are covering most of their trip costs, which are shown in the pie charts below, broken down for each student and for the orchestra as a whole. Adding onto the typical travel expenses of flight and lodging are instrument rentals for the cellos and basses. Furthermore, a major goal of this tour is for the musicians to immerse themselves and expand their worldliness in the culture and wonders of Puerto Rico by exploring areas such as the Bioluminescent Bay and the amazing rainforests. Overall, these expenses amount to roughly $1,100 per student, or over $37,000 for the entire orchestra, discounting more personal expenses such as meals. With the help of Kickstarter, the orchestra members may be able to take some of the weight of the trip’s expenses off their own shoulders.
If you would like some more information on the Cornell Orchestras, please check out some of our webpages below!
Plans for the Cornell Orchestras tour to Puerto Rico are highly developed and almost complete at this point. There are many inherent challenges associated with travelling internationally with a group, such as instrument rental troubles, but we are very confident in this tour's success given Director Kim's experiences in dealing with both domestic and international tours. Additionally, several of the current tour members have traveled as part of Cornell Orchestras for our previous tour to Dublin, Ireland. We are so excited to be working with the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music and we feel that, especially with their help, we will be able to overcome any potential risks and challenges.