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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Reflections with the new orchestra and band conductors

This fall, two new faces, Hannah Schendel and Lauren Visel, became the new conductors of the Carleton Orchestra and Symphony Band respectively. Now almost halfway through Fall Term, they each reflect on their time at Carleton.

“I really loved that there was so much focus on curiosity, the individual and approaching [issues] in a kind of good-natured way, and even a humorous way,” said Visel. “That really resonated with me.”

“I had to conduct the band as part of my interview… I felt everyone concentrating so much, just trying to do exactly what I was asking with verbal feedback and nonverbal feedback. I just felt this kind of heightened intensity that I really liked, and then they asked me amazing questions at the end too…We ended up talking about pop music and a lot of different things.  I called my husband on the way home and said, ‘If I don’t get this job, I’m going to be really disappointed.’ And luckily, I did!”

Schendel echoed Visel’s excitement about working at Carleton, especially enjoying the college’s small, liberal arts-focused aspects.

“I chose to take this position because…it’s what I love to do: it’s conducting, it’s working with an orchestra,” said Schendel. “I’m coming from my doctorate right now, but I had been teaching [and] really enjoyed working in a small collegiate atmosphere, so this was a really great fit. I had, when I was considering undergrad programs, come and toured Carleton and remembered really loving it. I didn’t end up coming here, but I at least had some familiarity with the campus and just thought it was a really great place.”

This excitement has carried them into the start of the Fall Term.

“[The first few weeks here] have gone really well,” said Schendel.  “I’ve really enjoyed meeting all the new students, and feeling all the energy that they’ve brought to rehearsal and everything.  It’s been really great to meet all the faculty, and just be in a really supportive atmosphere…. I have really enjoyed how the students enjoy being challenged and seem to appreciate the extra push. […] Sometimes, [orchestra] requires a lot of extra personal practice for [the students] outside of classes and outside of rehearsals, but it’s been really rewarding to see the effort they put in and how excited they are to come to rehearsals every time.”

However, starting a new position at a new organization brings changes and a slight adjustment period. 

“The [trimester] term system is new for me, so I’m just grasping it and thinking, ‘Okay, I’m only going to do this a handful of more times,’” said Visel. “But it definitely has its advantages too. I think you teach in such a way that everything becomes a little bit more meaningful when there’s a little less time to make it happen. So I’ve really enjoyed it so far.”

Visel has already begun implementing changes to the band’s schedule. 

One big difference is that this year we’re not just doing our concert at the end of the term, but also participating in the Family Weekend concert with the other ensembles, which we have never done before,” said orchestra student Lily Vargo ’25, a violinist. “On the general theme of things that are being added, I think Hannah is putting a lot of effort into organizing activities outside of rehearsals for us to get to know each other and so far seems very focused on community building, which is nice because it makes orchestra feel a little less formal.”

Students in band have also noticed positive changes.

“With Lauren as the new director, the biggest thing I have seen within the band is stability. I can tell that the way she structures the band, has chosen the music and how she directs is very intentional and is tailored to us becoming better musicians and band members,” said symphony band trumpeter Josiah Tusler ’25. “As her career revolve[s] around the band, she is very understanding and has been able to articulate subtle but effective techniques and considerations that have definitely improved my playing and my approach when it comes to playing concert band music. I believe that she’ll continue to grow the band and make it sound the best it’s ever been!”

As both conductors work towards the first performances of the year and beyond, they look forward to the time and music-making ahead.

“My main thing is collaborations with other groups and… just thinking about the repertoire for the year. I have an overarching thread that I hope comes to fruition, so that’s my main thing that I’m working on right now,” said Visel, who deeply enjoys “working with people so intelligent and so quick-witted. It’s not just that they’re smart, it’s that they’re funny.  And it keeps me on my toes in a way that is new and exciting.”

Schendel too is working on programming for the coming performances.

“A lot of the students have really great ideas for the music they want to play, so I think throughout the year, I’m planning to incorporate some of the students’ interests and see if I can put that into the performance schedule as well,” said Schendel. “It’s just really exciting to me to be in an environment where curiosity is so prevalent, especially on this campus. Everybody is really interested and up for playing new music, maybe that they’ve never heard before or for trying new things like a collaboration that’s never been done before. It’s exciting to be around other people who are really open-minded and excited to try new things.”

Both the Carleton orchestra and symphony band’s end-of-term concerts will take place in Kracum Hall on November 10 at 8 p.m. and on November 3 at 7 p.m. respectively. The ensembles will also welcome parents to campus with a performance the evening of Friday, Oct. 13.

 

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About the Contributor
Zoe Roettger, Features Editor
Hi there!  I'm Zoe (she/her), and I'm a prospective Linguistics major with a Classics minor.  I love anything language-related, arts-related, writing & reading, and cats.  I also have a spider plant named "Pulchra," which, against all odds, is still alive.  When not testing my plant's resiliency, I can usually be found in Anderson or Blue Monday. Zoe Roettger '27 was previously an Arts & Features writer.

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