Student soloists join ISU Symphony Orchestra


Blake Lanser/Iowa State Daily

Courtney Kayser, senior in music, prepares for her Concert of Soloists. Kayser is a mezzo-soprano and is preparing to be among her fellow musicians and be accompanied by the ISU Symphony Orchestra. 

Lani Tons

The Iowa State Symphony Orchestra will present its “Concert of Soloists” at 7:30 Feb. 27 in the Martha-Ellen Tye Recital Hall. Selected students will perform as soloists in this concert.

The music is from Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 “From the New World.” Alexander Doser, senior in mathematics, will play the piano.

“We have a big part and the orchestra is accompanying us for the first half of the concert,” Doser said.

An audition took place for students to have a role in the performance. After the competition ended, three students were chosen.

Since starting to play the piano at age five, this will be Doser’s first time performing with an orchestra.

Ryan Pearson, senior in music, will play the marimba in the concert as a soloist.

“It is to show what I have been working on this year and also as practice for me to become a better musician,” Pearson said.

Preparation for this concert requires both practice with a student’s instrument and time practicing with the orchestra.

“The only way to prepare for something like this is to just spend many hours in the practice room everyday. It is slow going at first, but once the notes are learned, it is all about adding musicality and your own style to the pieces,” Pearson said.

Courtney Kayser, senior in music, will sing as a mezzo-soprano in the concert.

“I’ve been singing since childhood, but I didn’t start taking private lessons until college. It wasn’t until my junior year that I ditched Broadway music and started learning how to sing classically. I wanted to learn something new and something that would challenge me vocally,” Kayser said.

In addition to “From the New World,” the orchestra will accompany soloists to their music of choice.

“The pieces are ones that my professor and I picked out for me to perform. Each piece is picked to work on a different set of skills, so I can also learn while I prepare for my recital,” Pearson said.

The soloists are to perform one piece.

“I will sing this one aria, ‘Que fais-tu, blanche tourterelle?’ If it were anymore than that, I’d be a little terrified. The aria I’m performing is a bit of a beast to get through on its own,” Kayser said.

Kayser will prepare differently than an instrumentalist for the solo concert.

“I had to learn and internalize the music before I entered the competition to perform in this concert. That meant running it with both my voice professor Mary Creswell and vocal coach Jodi Goble to check to see if I was taking enough breath to support both myself and the melodic line,” Kayser said.

By using her coach’s help, Kayser was able to find out if she had any vocal or physical tension. After such preparation, the concert is a main focus of hers.

“The fact that I’m singing with the symphony orchestra is enough to make me squeal with joy. Even though I dreamed about it, I never thought in a million years that I would be chosen for such an opportunity like this,” Kayser said.

Each soloist is humble and honored to perform with the symphony orchestra.

“Especially given the immensely talented instrumentalists I had to compete against, it’s a pleasure to sing alongside them,” Kayser said.

The admission charge for adults is $5 and $3 for students.