Image Credit: Susan Bungard-Beck

Walla Walla Symphony Orchestra Performs at Kennedy Center

The Walla Walla University Symphony Orchestra traveled to the East Coast for a unique chance to perform at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The orchestra performed pieces including Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 2" and "Finale" and Saint-Saëns' "Third Symphony" with organ.

The invitation to play on the main stage of Kennedy Center came after the orchestra's memorable performance at Carnegie Hall in the spring of 2019. The concert at Kennedy Center was part of the 2024 Capital Orchestra Festival, and WWU's orchestra was one of only four invited to participate.

This rare opportunity was greatly appreciated by all the orchestra members, including Lisa Luzyl Wa-Mbaleka, WWU sophomore health science major, who said, “I was ecstatic to be on the same stage as many great musicians who had performed before me. It was a beautiful experience that I will never forget and it ignited my passion even further for music.”

Beyond the performance at Kennedy Center, orchestra students also participated in a workshop with a famous conductor, explored Washington, D.C., monuments and memorial sites, and visited museums. The multi-day tour also included a performance at an Adventist church.

Cristina Showalter, sophomore bioengineering major and first chair cellist, said, “The trip was a total blast. I came into it not really being close to or even friends with anyone on the trip, but by the end, I can genuinely say that I could call basically everyone in the orchestra a friend. I am so thrilled to share amazing memories with all the cool people in the orchestra.”

Providing opportunities for students to play at significant venues is a way to support their love for music. The dedicated practice required to be invited to these concert halls is a testament to the quality of WWU's music program. Ensembles like the Symphony Orchestra are open to all students, not just music majors. With 10 ensembles offered each year, university students have countless ways to hone their musical talents and participate in rich musical experiences.

Featured in: May/June 2024