Community orchestra makes music easygoing

OWLchestra, a community string orchestra run by students, welcomes anyone to play in a stress-free environment.

OWLchestra performs during its fall concert Nov. 5 at the Temple Performing Arts Center. | Zach Fischer TTN

Amanda Roth learned last semester that starting an orchestra wasn’t as difficult as she thought it would be.

At the first rehearsal Jan. 22 for OWLchestra, a community string orchestra at Temple, Roth, Isaac Young and Rick Henry, all senior violin performance majors, were astounded by the amount of people who were interested in joining their program.

“We were like, ‘Yeah we won’t have a lot of people,’ and we actually had so many that we ran out of music and had to quickly print more,” said Roth, violinist and co-founder of OWLchestra.

Now with 47 members, OWLchestra held its first concert of the semester Nov. 5 in the Temple Performing Arts Center. The community orchestra played an hour’s worth of classical music including “L’Inverno,” Antonio Vivaldi’s winter concerto of “The Four Seasons” and Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.”

This semester, the community orchestra had plenty of new members join. Roth said she always expects the worst with member attendance, but is always ecstatic when she sees the amount of people who want to join.

“We often just sit back and say, ‘Wow, we started an orchestra,’” Roth said. “It’s crazy.”

OWLchestra was something Roth, Henry and Young all thought was necessary on Main Campus—there was a community band and community choir, but there was no place for string players. OWLchestra was their way of making music accessible to students who did not have as much time to be in the Temple University Symphony Orchestra, but still wanted to make music a part of their daily lives.

The orchestra is open to Temple students regardless of their majors, as well as any members of the community. It is meant to be a place where anyone can play an instrument in a low-stress environment.

The Nov. 5 concert featured a special guest performance from Temple alumna Sarah Kenner, who graduated in 2014 with a degree in violin performance. Now she studies at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. Kenner performed a solo during “L’Inverno.”

She thinks OWLchestra’s inclusivity is what makes it special.

“It seems like a very welcoming environment and they like to include everybody,” Kenner said.

It was also important for the orchestra to be able to perform in TPAC, for which Roth thanks Temple faculty and staff because it helped the group become the ensemble they are today.

“The fact that we are performing in TPAC, where all the other ensembles perform, I think really solidifies us as a legit ensemble,” Roth said.

OWLchestra will continue its rehearsals during the second week of the upcoming spring semester, Thursdays in Presser Hall at 7:30 pm. The group’s next concert is scheduled for April 14.

With the orchestra growing each semester and two concerts under its belt, the group realizes it will continue to grow and be successful.

“I think that’s very important for people who do not get to make music as often—to have an environment where you feel safe and where you feel free to just express your musical self,” Kenner said.

Andrea Odjemski can be reached at

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