The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra is thriving at a time when some community-based orchestras are struggling. And the director says the group is very intentional about serving its community and that makes all the difference in the world.
The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra uses one of its final rehearsals to fine tune the music before an upcoming performance at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls.
While some community-based symphony organizations across the country are struggling, the director of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra says it's going strong.
"We take joy in what we do and we love communicating that with others," SDSO director Delta David Gier said.
Gier believes it's the orchestra's commitment to our community that makes the difference. Thirteen of the musicians are on staff full time, performing outreach in addition to scheduled performances.
"The way in which we play out music and live and breathe in our community is very unique for Sioux Falls, South Dakota. You talk to any of our musicians and there is a passionate desire to connect with the people in our community," Gier said.
Oboist Jeff Paul plays spends his time playing for school children and nursing home residents. He says music is a form of communication and it invokes a different emotion in everyone.
Clarinetist Chris Hill especially enjoys the orchestra's outreach project called “Music as Medicine.” He often plays in hospitals and other medical facilities.
"They will take the time to stop, listen, maybe even tear-up a little bit as we're performing for them. And that really touches me," Hill said.
"There's something that happens when a bow gets touched to a string or a reed gets set into motion by someone blowing through it. There's a different kind of vibration, a physical response, that happens," Gier said.
And it’s not only audience members who are moved by the music.
"It's exciting for me. It can give me goose bumps. It can make me cry. It can make me want to jump out of my seat," Paul said.
Gier says most of his work is done during rehearsals. He explains his role as being responsible for integrating each instrument's sheet music into one combined work of art. So when the curtain goes up, the musical expression is released.
"Now is the time to let go and communicate the joy of the music itself, the passion of the music itself," Gier said.
And Gier challenges anyone who doesn't think the symphony is for them.
"People generally have a pre-conceived notion about what classical music is. If they don't like the light frilly stuff and they are Rock-N-Rollers, well, I've got a whole list of symphonic music that will knock their socks off," Gier said.
The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra just recently completed a community outreach project called the Lakota Music Project which involved musicians playing side by side with members of the Lakota tribe.