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University to host international orchestra director conference

By Terra Collier, For The Miami Student

Miami University, in coordination with Northern Kentucky University (NKU) and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, will be hosting the College Orchestra Directors Association (CODA) conference this weekend.

Gracing our Midwestern stages will be a multitude of renowned conductors and orchestras from around the world, making the conference truly international for the first time this year.

CODA began in 2003 with a small group of conductors, and has since grown to encompass over 200 orchestras worldwide. United by dedication to the advancement of university orchestral programs, their annual conferences provide a forum for diverse music educators, makers and lovers to come together.

Richard Averbach, president of CODA and conductor of the Miami University Symphony Orchestra (MUSO), has had as much responsibility as enthusiasm for this event. He characterizes the opportunity for our campus as "absolutely incredible," proven by the weekend's events.

Between the many presentations and performances, there are a few highlights for Miami students and Oxford community members. The Shanghai Jiao Tong University Orchestra, prominent in China and worldwide, will present a mixture of Western, European and Chinese music 8 p.m. Thursday to expose how the varying modes can interact to the audience, according to Averbach.

On Friday NKU will be showing the fun and fast-paced one-man play "Muse of Fire," the story of a past conductor and his apprentice.

MUSO will be performing at 2 p.m. Saturday in Hall Auditorium. The French cartoon "Dum Spiro" will be premiered using the software Muzeik, synchronizing live music played by the orchestra with the film's movements.

"Orchestras will be able to project movies as they play," Averbach said.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will conclude the weekend with a concert downtown at Music Hall.

Matching the excitement of the conductors in this organization are the students.

Amanda Simensky, graduate assistant to Averbach and MUSO's concertmaster, is eager to produce the "higher quality performance" that the world-renowned guests expect.

"It's a great opportunity for students," she said. "The visitors are able to see our campus and what we're doing. It's engaging, and a new experience from a student's perspective."

Averbach glows with pride for the effort his students have put into conference preparation.

"I am so proud of the [MUSO] students," he said. "I hope the Miami students, in the same way that they go to football games and hockey games, also come to cheer for the orchestra."

And not just music students, at that.

"It is not just for people who understand music," Averbach said. "It's about making it accessible to anyone."

Simensky agreed.

"The Miami music is very accessible," she said.

She encouraged even skeptics of classical music to attend the concert for the Dum Spiro piece, in which "there is exciting music and moods change all the time."

The CODA International Conference provides many opportunities to see true passion for music at work in real-time and mass quantity. Potential attendees can find more information at