Jacob Egol ’23: Brevard Music Center: College Orchestral Institute Program

Summer 2022

About the Program

I used my Benenson Award to attend Brevard Music Center’s College Orchestral Institute, a summer music festival located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina, where I spent 7 weeks honing my skills as a classical cellist. I first attended Brevard in Summer 2021, when its program and offerings were abbreviated due to COVID-19. After witnessing firsthand how magical a summer at Brevard can be, I reapplied to study there again this summer and take in their full experience.

The centerpiece of a typical day at Brevard is a 2.5-hour orchestra rehearsal, usually with the Brevard Sinfonia, which is comprised of all college musicians at Brevard. I and three of my colleagues were appointed the principal cellists of this orchestra, and we rotated throughout the summer playing repertoire ranging from Stravinsky’s Firebird and Ravel’s La Valse, to a concert featuring music by lesser-known African American composers, to a film night in which we played the entire score of Star Wars: A New Hope live to the movie. College musicians at Brevard are also invited to play in the Brevard Music Center Orchestra: the festival’s flagship ensemble. The BMCO is primarily comprised of faculty, and each college musician has a faculty stand partner. Highlights of my weeks in the BMCO included playing next to the principal cellist of the BBC Concert Orchestra, and learning the entirety of Mahler’s Third Symphony– one of the longest in the standard orchestral repertoire! A given week at Brevard concludes with concerts for both orchestras, and with each new week, we played new repertoire under the baton of a different conductor from a major professional orchestra. Two of the renowned conductors under whom I played were Keith Lockhart from the Boston Pops, and JoAnn Falletta from the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.