When Briana Eilert transferred to Tennessee Tech, she knew she wanted to study under Philip Barham in the university’s School of Music saxophone studio. What she did not realize at that time was that her quality work at Tech would bring her a unique opportunity for music students, especially saxophone players.
As the winner of the annual Joan Derryberry Memorial Concerto Competition, Eilert will perform as the featured soloist with the Bryan Symphony Orchestra at its Feb. 18 concert.
“Saxophone is very rarely used in the orchestral repertoire, so the opportunities for saxophonist are typically very slim and limited to playing as a concerto soloist,” Eilert said. “So, it is actually going to be my first time playing with strings, let alone a full orchestra. It is a huge honor to have this opportunity.”
With the orchestra, Eilert will be performing Henri Tomasi’s “Concerto for saxophone and orchestra” as well as Jean Sibelius’ Finlandia “Op. 26,” “Overture to Rosamunde” by Franz Schubert, the “Ballad of Revolt” by Harald Saeverud, and “Mozart’s Symphony no. 25” in g minor.
Named after former Tech First Lady Joan Derryberry, the annual memorial concerto competition included students from various areas of study within the university’s music department. Eilert performed among peers in the saxophone studio for the opportunity to compete in the competition.
“As a music performance major, I am very accustomed to having master class settings where you are playing amongst one another, but it was sort of a different setting to audition amongst your peers, other senior students, especially as a transfer student,” Eilert said.
Eilert is a senior music performance major from Wilkesboro, North Carolina, who began playing saxophone in her middle school’s band program. After completing a summer intensive program at the North Carolina School of the Arts, Eilert knew she wanted to pursue a career in music.
Once she began her college career as a musician, she met an alumnus from Tennessee Tech who recommended that she look into the work of Barham. Soon, she transferred to Tech to study under him.
“I really enjoyed his school of thought and wanted to explore that. I feel Tennessee Tech, particularly studying with professor Barham, was what I was looking for in my musical journey to get me to the next step,” she said.
Her performance with the BSO begins at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18, in Tech’s Wattenbarger Auditorium. Tickets are $36 for adults, $32 for seniors 65 and up and $10 for students. Call 931-525-2633 for reservations.
The BSO is the only professional symphony outside a metropolitan area in Tennessee. Now in its 55th season, the BSO is a collaborative effort of the non-profit Bryan Symphony Orchestra Association and the Tennessee Tech School of Music.Wattenbarger Auditorium is located in the Bryan Fine Arts Building, 1150 N. Dixie Ave.