By Holly Jay
Asst. Arts & Entertainment Editor
For sophomore Paige Tang, The Jackson Symphony Orchestra’s 33rd Starlight Symphony outdoor concert is more than just a picnic with family. It is a significant life experience.
“It’s always been music in our family,” said Tang, a music major and violinist whose father, Jordan Tang, has conducted the orchestra for more than 25 years. This is his last season with the symphony.
Paige Tang has played the violin for 16 years, six of those with the Jackson Symphony. Her brother, Union alumnus Philip Tang, played cello at the concert.
Despite a few sprinkles of rain, Saturday’s free concert on the grounds of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson invited residents to picnic while listening to a sampling of what concertgoers can expect to hear in the upcoming season.
The orchestra performed 12 pieces.
The free event draws a wide audience and is popular with Union students.
Paige Tang has grown up attending the Starlight Symphony concert every year.
“I couldn’t wait to play in Starlight,” she said, adding that playing with the orchestra complements her music degree.
“There is such a variety of music for orchestra,” Tang said, dwelling on how each instrument has its own part to contribute to the whole.
While solo pieces can be fun, there is nothing like playing in an orchestra where all the different instruments come together, she said.
This year, selections included pieces from “Grease!” the musical, “Symphony No. 1, Finale” composed by Gustav Mahler, and the “1812 Overture” by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, which featured the firing of authentic cannons, a yearly tradition at the concert.
Tang also plays in Union’s recently established String Ensemble. Playing an instrument in a group is important for a musician’s development, she said, describing how the addition of another violin major, Elizabeth Tomyn, to the department has “definitely strengthened” her abilities.
The two can go back and forth contributing to one another’s learning and development as musicians, she said.
Tang will perform with the String Ensemble in several appearances this year, including the String Ensemble concert Nov. 15 and “A Union Christmas” Dec. 4.
The Jackson Symphony will perform next on Sept. 15 in Savage Memorial Chapel on campus. “Heavenly Inspirations!” will feature Nancy Allen, principal harpist with the New York Philharmonic.