They pluck their strings, blare their horns, and beat their drums, but the Central Ohio Symphony Orchestra does much more than perform for the Ohio Wesleyan community.
The orchestra was founded in 1978 as a partnership with the university’s music department and the wider Delaware community. The orchestra today is a non-profit that sustains itself on ticket sales, donations and written grants. As a result, it has fostered a unique relationship with the school that may be unknown to some students.
Aside from calling Gray Chapel their home for over 35 years, the symphony was originally an outgrowth of the former Ohio Wesleyan University Symphony Orchestra according to Warren Hyer, the executive director for the Central Ohio Symphony.
Hyer said that university cuts in the late 1970s and lack of student involvement at the time caused the symphony to change hands over to the already-involved community.
However, this has not negatively affected the relationship between the orchestra and the university, Hyer said. In fact, he thinks it allows for greater flexibility in the partnership while still maintaining that close bond.
“The university very much wanted us to stay involved with them and we served officially as a kind of bridge between the community and Ohio Wesleyan,” said Hyer. “We have a very strong relationship with the university. It is my impression that it is very important for the university to have us on campus.”
For Hyer, this strong relationship includes marketing for both the wider community as well as students at Ohio Wesleyan, and not just for ticket sales either.
Hillary Fowler (’14), the postgraduate intern for university advancement, began her first ever internship with the Central Ohio Symphony Orchestra working under Hyer.
“During my sophomore year, I decided that I wanted to go in to arts administration,” Fowler said. “I started off as a volunteer to get office experience and it evolved into an internship position. I was actually the first music major to intern at the office.”
In addition, the orchestra often engages the Ohio Wesleyan Marketing Group, which largely consists of student economics majors who conduct various marketing projects for organizations on and off campus.
Both Fowler and Hyer said that the symphony also provides economic majors and other students opportunities for volunteering and internships assisting the orchestra in issues such as financial issues. The whole point is to gain experience according to both Hyer and Fowler.
“It’s a great relationship. The university provides the ‘in-kind’ gift of Gray Chapel and the Central Ohio Symphony provides internships, which are invaluable for students and even young alumni,” Fowler said. “That’s what we, as the university, always try to provide students is real-life experiences. It’s great to have a resource that’s right in town and, aside from all that, the symphony provides performances.”
Orchestra performances are often listed under Ohio Wesleyan’s Performing Arts Series.
The Central Ohio Symphony Orchestra is next playing on Sunday, Dec. 14 at 2:00 and 4:30 p.m. in Gray Chapel for their annual Holiday Concert. Admission for Ohio Wesleyan students is six dollars. To see some of their previous concerts, go to http://stream.owu.edu under “Community Performance Archive.”