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Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra: Taking Back the Stage

A reflection written by Layne Anspach, fourth hornist with THSO


The movement from summer to fall creates new beginnings in a variety of ways: the end of summer vacation and start of school; the cooling of temperatures and change of the leaves; the reemergence of pumpkin spice everything; and my favorite, the autumn fishing “bite.” It is especially amazing because it is the return to one of my passions in life – orchestral music. For most orchestral musicians – the summer is a hiatus from regular orchestral work.


Coming back to performances with the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra (THSO) is no different. For those who have not met me, I am Layne Anspach, fourth hornist with the THSO for the past four seasons. In addition to performing with the THSO, I teach at Valparaiso University as the Adjunct Instructor of Horn and perform chamber and solo concerts throughout the year. As the summer break from teaching and orchestral performances ends, I am always very excited to be back with my colleagues and students.


The first concert of THSO’s 2021-2022 season blazed forward with a new sense of appreciation. Unlike many orchestras across the United States, THSO performed music, often live, throughout the 2020-2021 season. The precautions put in place due to Covid-19 made it difficult for many to operate as “normal;” orchestras and musicians were no different. With the need to reduce the size of the THSO to comply with regulations, some musicians, including myself, were unable to perform with THSO last season. It made being back performing music with friends and colleagues again so special. Not only was it an amazing experience to be with my colleagues again, but it was great to be performing live for the audience in Tilson Auditorium at Indiana State University.


In addition to performing during the height of the pandemic, the THSO started a collaboration with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Indiana State University. Members of the THSO have been presenting topics – via Zoom – ranging from the musician’s instrument (or even multiple instruments!) to specific pieces to different types of chamber ensembles. I was honored to present on the history and development of the horn last March. It was such an enriching experience to share the history of my instrument with others who were so keenly interested in the topic. Part of my education has been exploring historical aspects of classical music; asking questions like how, where, for whom was music performed. In upcoming OLLI presentations, I am excited to share some of my research on new and exciting topics.


Another avenue that I have been so thrilled to participate in is the THSO Chamber Music Series. The first performance happened on October 16th, 2021, at Hatfield Hall on the campus of Rose Hulman Institute of Technology. I performed with Volante Winds, a woodwind quintet, who has a few members that are represented in the THSO! It was great to engage in a smaller performance setting and be able to talk with audience members after the performance. Performing with four other musicians is a completely different experience than performing with fifty or sixty other musicians.


Additionally, Volante Winds was able to perform at the Westminster Village the very next day as part of THSO’s monthly Symphony Sundays series. Talk about being in an intimate performance setting! Sitting in the back of the orchestra, I must imagine everyone is enjoying listening to the music. At Westminster, I was able to SEE that the audience was enjoying the music – and hopefully they could see I was enjoying performing as well!


As I talk about these various experiences, you may have picked up on an underlying connection. It’s people! Students, colleagues, community and audience members, friends – all of whom are part of the fabric that make up the Terre Haute community. Whether we are meeting in person for performances or virtually online for presentations – what is important is that we are together as a community. Music is for people. If composers did not compose – no music. If performers did not perform – no music. If audience members did not listen and participate – no music. It is something we do collectively!


Lucky for you, you do not have to wait to participate in the community of music making in Terre Haute. The THSO is performing its second concert of the 2021-2022 season November 6th at 7:30pm in Tilson Auditorium. The program consists of works by French composer Hector Berlioz, German composer Johannes Brahms, and American composer Amy Beach. I am particularly excited about Amy Beach’s “Gaelic” Symphony because it is a monumental work for the development of American symphonic writing. It would take a whole OLLI presentation to explain why this piece is so special. It is also just so dang fun to play!


Hopefully, you’ll be able to join us in the experience of learning and listening at the next orchestra concert…or the one after that…or the next chamber concert…or the next presentation. For the orchestra concerts, you may not see me as I sit in the back of the ensemble, but I promise I’ll be loving every second of it. Prior to the concert, I am going to stand in front of the stage, because I want to meet you. Come say hello with a wave, handshake, fist or elbow bump – whatever you are comfortable with. Just look for the short blonde guy with glasses holding the curved brass instrument. I hope you’ll enjoy connecting with the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra as I enjoy connecting with the Terre Haute Community!


Photo by: Sarah J. Slover

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