By Brandon Gillet
Flowing ball gowns and fairy wings waltzing around the Huguette Labelle Hall are not something you would typically expect to see at a Friday night gathering of students. Welcome to the University of Ottawa Pop Orchestra’s Midnight Fairytale, a Disney-themed ball with students supplying the soundtrack on their own instruments.
This February 20 evening of food, live music by student ensembles, waltz lessons and an opportunity to dress as one’s favourite Disney character lived up to its billing as a magical night .
The uOttawa Pop Orchestra started three years ago when Mathieu Roy set up the student-run club as an outlet for those who wanted to pursue their passion for music as they completed degrees in other disciplines.
“Actually it was only supposed to be a jam session with some of my high school friends, because there aren’t any opportunities at uOttawa to play a musical instrument unless you are in the music program,” said orchestra president Roy, who is doing a specialization in animal behaviour .
He put the word out. At first, around six people showed up. Every week, more joined the club. Things really took off in the second year — the club was looking quite a bit more professional, with 40 members. Roy, who plays mostly reed instruments but can also play some string instruments, actually conducted during the first year, not really knowing what he was doing. In association with the SFUO, the club provides an alternative repertoire to the strictly classical styles featured in the music program, playing all genres of music, including film scores.
The Midnight Fairytale event began with guests being greeted in the Tabaret Rotunda by Disney themes played on flute, followed by waltz lessons backed by a classically-trained string quartet in Huguette Labelle Hall.
“I think it’s wonderful that everyone got into the spirit and got dressed up,” said the club’s VP finance, Olga Koppel, wearing the hand-made Belle gown she spent her reading week making. “I see lots of princesses and fairy wings — it’s exciting.”
Koppel is a biology student who’s been playing flute for 11 years.
“We are a relatively new club, in our third year, so it is not surprising that we are not well-known yet,” said Koppel. “Although we are rapidly growing —we have 60 student members this year!”
An upcoming concert in April was originally intended to feature strictly Disney theme music. However, the club recently learned that due to copyright laws, it is only allowed to play three Disney scores in any given performance. So the concert, titled Heroes and Villains, will include a few Disney tunes, along with others, including from the film Gladiator.
The uOttawa Pop Orchestra rehearses for three hours each week in Perez Hall. For up-to-date information on future events, be sure to check out its Facebook page and website, and follow the orchestra on Twitter.