Behind the Music

Nov 13, 2017

by Dr. Kira Omelchenko
Assistant Professor of Music

Hello! I’m Dr. Kira Omelchenko, the director of the orchestra and string program here at FSC! I’m just one of many friendly faces you’ll find in the Music Department. Through a series of blogs, I’ll be taking you on a journey through the Music Department and highlighting exciting student and faculty projects.

What I love about the Music Department is that it is a place where students can merge creativity and performance with academia and scholarship. Students learn beyond the music written on the page. They learn how to convey various styles and emotions, and how to communicate and perform with others in a small and large ensemble. Students critically assess their own performance and progress daily, and constantly strive to be better versions of themselves. This is what impresses me about FSC students.

Olivia Smith after her performance.

Olivia Smith ‘18 is just one of such impressive students. Olivia is a senior violinist and the concert master of the FSC Orchestra. This past summer Olivia and I traveled together to Bulgaria and performed with the professional Vidin State Philharmonic Orchestra. Olivia performed two violin concertos (Mendelssohn and Khachaturian)—from memory!—and I conducted her with the Orchestra. I knew Olivia had the talent, potential, and work ethic so I encouraged her to audition for the program. We rehearsed with the orchestra for over two weeks and we were even able to enjoy some of the city sights! Check out our pictures!

The most rewarding part of the project was collaborating with Olivia on a musical and personal level. I sincerely enjoyed getting to know Olivia throughout the two weeks in Bulgaria and I felt this experience allowed us to grow together as collaborative artists. Olivia challenged herself musically, was open to feedback and criticism, made friends with musician from across the globe, and stepped out of her comfort zone on multiple occasions.

Olivia said about the experience, “This was a challenging and new experience for me. I enjoyed working with the orchestra and learning how much preparation it takes to collaborate with a large group. This is something I have always wanted to do, but never thought I would have the opportunity.”

I am so proud to be able to collaborate with talented students like Olivia Smith and this is an experience we will never forget. It inspires me to see a student grow to become a scholar and professional. Faculty and student collaborative projects such as ours and the guarantee for students to study abroad are what make FSC so special and a place to call home.

Join me, Olivia, and the rest of the FSC Symphony Orchestra in our upcoming concert Wednesday, November 15, at 7:30 p.m. in Branscomb Auditorium. The concert “Window to the East” will feature music inspired by—or written by Asian composers. I’ll be joined by my talented colleagues Professor Mark Thomsen (tenor) and Dr. Fen-Fang Chen (pipa) who will perform solos with the orchestra. A pre-concert discussion will take place at 7:00 p.m. where I’ll be providing insights behind the music.

See you soon!