Club Spotlight: Ursa Major

Student-created orchestra group starts strong

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Ursa Major in a practice session. Julien Ueda ’17 conducts the group for the upcoming concert.

There’s a new ringing in the halls of Blake this year and it’s bound to turn some heads. Shruti Gupta, ‘17, and Franklin Linderman, ‘18, an unexpected but effective duo, are heading a new student ensemble this year known as Ursa Major. Much like Blaker’s Dozen and Treble Choir, it is an entirely student-led and directed advanced orchestra group, complete with tryouts, practices, and concerts. In fact, Linderman recalled the idea for the group came about last year when he heard Blaker’s Dozen practicing before school. “It made me realize that there weren’t the same opportunities for orchestra students so I thought maybe we should fill that need,” he explained.

Shruti Gupta, Linderman’s fellow musician in the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies, had the same idea and reached out to him for his help. He was immediately on board with the idea and they set about getting it into the course catalog for the following year. Now, a few weeks into the school year, they’ve narrowed the chamber to 14 of Blake’s top musicians and have already begun practicing in hopes of two big concerts later in the year. Linderman and Gupta have broken the chamber into smaller groups of two to four people for specific pieces, indicating their concerts will be a mix of chamber and small group performances. Thomas Gill, ‘19, one of the members of the chamber, says, “I’m really excited about where we are headed this year and it seems like this setup is going to lead to some pretty impressive performances.”

In the end, however, Gupta thinks the chamber will be a success for everyone involved, pointing out that, “Chamber orchestra is extremely valuable because it forces musicians to make decisions on their own, meaning they grow both as individuals and as ensemble players.” With such promising talent and potential for growth, we can expect some great things from this young, new group!