The love of music and the passion for playing never truly leaves a performer, regardless of his or her professional pursuits.  Lamar University’s music department understands this, and seeks to capitalize on it with its new community orchestra.  The Lamar Civic Orchestra, which begins rehearsals in August, will provide an opportunity for trained musicians from all walks of life to perform together and enrich the community.

“There is a real need to fill a gap in the orchestral world in Beaumont,” said Harry Bulow, chair of Lamar’s Department of Music, Theatre & Dance. “There is a youth symphony and the Symphony of Southeast Texas, but there is a professional gap for something in between.  The Lamar Civic Orchestra will allow musicians to develop and sustain their interest and abilities in performing standard orchestral repertoire.”

The ensemble will be conducted by Kurt Gilman, associate professor of music at Lamar.  Professional musicians, as well as people from other fields, are welcome, Gilman said. Gilman explains that some members of the group will have the goal of eventually performing in a professional orchestra, while others may wish to simply enjoy the study and performance of great works from diverse musical styles.

“We’ve already had a great response,” said Gilman.  “There are a number of people in the community who have played professionally but are looking for an alternative to professional commitment.  This is what we offer—a way to tie in the experiences of performers without the rigors of professional organizations.”

Lamar Civic Orchestra’s repertoire will represent everything from the classics to pops literature.  Currently, two concerts are planned per year.  The first will be Dec. 9, 2008, beginning at 7:30 the Setzer Student Center Ballroom at Lamar University.  The second is scheduled for May 5, 2009.  More dates may be added depending upon the group’s needs and wishes.

A board of artistic advisors will meet regularly to assist in operations and guide direction of the non-profit orchestra.  The 12-member board will consist of professional musicians and community members with a history of arts advocacy.

The volunteer–based orchestra has a goal of attracting 65 members.  Membership will be open to college-level or older orchestral musicians throughout the greater Beaumont area.  Gilman has already received interest from musicians in Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange and Lake Charles, La., and hopes to draw performers from all areas in Southeast Texas and bordering regions.

The ensemble will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays for rehearsals at Lamar University, with the first rehearsal scheduled Aug. 26.  Interested parties may contact Gilman to schedule an interview.

The most exciting part for Gilman is that the orchestra will give back to Southeast Texas.

“This ensemble will serve the community by inspiring those wishing to develop their musical understanding and interest in great concert music.  I’ve conducted a lot of different types of ensembles, and this is one of the things I like to do the most.”

Gilman formed the similar community-based Conway Symphony Orchestra in central Arkansas.  “It is deeply meaningful to be able to provide the public with high-quality, professional musical performances.”

For more information, contact Kurt Gilman at (409) 880-8077 or Harry Bulow at (409) 880-8144.