The Goshen College Symphony Orchestra (GCSO) will present their fall concert in Sauder Concert Hall on Friday, and it will be one of their last concerts directed by Brian Mast.The concert will feature three distinctive pieces: the Overture from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story,” Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture and Bedřich Smetana’s The Moldau.
“I wanted to pick some programmatic music that depicts something,” said Brian Mast, director of the GCSO and executive director of the Music Center.
Both the “West Side Story” piece and the Tchaikovsky overture explore the story of Romeo and Juliet, albeit in very different ways. The Moldau, on the other hand, tells the story of the Moldau River in the Czech Republic; Mast says the piece has “different indications for different imagery throughout the work — but you’ll always hear the underpinning of flowing water.”
Mast announced recently that this would be his final semester as an orchestra conductor.
“I’ve been at Goshen College 18 years,” said Mast, “and all of those until August were at the Music Center. And for the last three years, I’ve conducted the orchestra as an adjunct instructor, and I’ve loved it.”
Mast is stepping away from the Music Center next semester due to a career transition from Music Center director to a more administrative role as director of facilities on campus. He has been filling both positions this semester and is currently heavily involved in the ongoing Westlawn renovation.
Although this shift may seem drastic, Mast explained that the different roles have some interesting overlap.
“As executive director, I was caring for the Music Center and making sure the facility and everyone who used it had everything they needed,” Mast said. “This position is actually using some of those same skills and just applying it on a larger scale to the campus.”
In addition, the transition allows Mast an opportunity to explore his other interests beyond music.
“When I was younger,” he said, “I actually really wanted to be an architect. I grew up building things with my father and so I have this whole other side to me that loves to create physical things.”
Brenton Pham, a sophomore orchestra member, expressed his sadness about the transition and excitement for the upcoming concert. “We will miss Brian very much. He’s loved by everyone in the orchestra and we wish him the best of luck in his new adventures.”
To fill Mast’s various roles at the Music Center, the department is currently in the process of hiring another full-time faculty member by fall 2023 that will direct the GCSO and teach a number of music education classes.
In the spring, the GCSO will be directed by Victoria Petrak, the current music director of the Maple City Community Orchestra. Mast described Petrak as “young and dynamic.” She will be the first female GCSO conductor.