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Students as Producers: Vanderbilt Commodore Orchestra

Posted by on Monday, May 19, 2014 in News.

The CFT’s “Students as Producers” theme year culminated in our end-of-year event, the Celebration of Learning. As a part of the celebration, an exhibition of 25 student projects from all four undergraduate schools showcased a wide variety of student work. This series of blog posts highlights some of the student projects from the exhibition.


Student: Keehun Nam
Project: Vanderbilt Commodore Orchestra
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Robin Fountain

As Blair student Keehun Nam reported in his presentation April 21st at the Celebration of Learning in Alumni Hall, his interest in founding a community orchestra did not arise from a particular class or suggestion from a faculty member. When he transferred here in his sophomore year, he was shocked that a university as prestigious as Vanderbilt did not have a way to make orchestral music together with members of the broader Nashville community.

With a nonchalance that belies Nam’s passion for this cause, he recounts “So what do you do when you don’t see one? You make it.”  The Commodore Orchestra, as it came to be called, is composed of students, faculty, and the broader community, who are all welcomed to join in making music together. Nam developed an acronym to guide his work that he finds is true for any greater undertaking: CALM. C is for care: about your community. For an organization like the VCO to succeed, the needs of the community have to be front and center. A is for application, which Nam refers to as “sustained work and difficult work.” The VCO will be successful as long as the members apply themselves. He feels it is up to teachers and music directors to set a high bar and show what their students or musicians could achieve. In his case, Nam says the members of the VCO “saw what it could be, and went after it.” Finally, the M is for Mentorship. Nam has received help in getting his idea off the ground from administrators, especially Dean Mark Wait and faculty members like Dr. Robin Fountain in the Blair school of music, as well as from the Nashville Symphony, who brought members to help teach VCO musicians.

In the future, Nam would like the VCO to extend that mentorship to others, by expanding the reach of their audience, and connecting children with classical music performance.

See the Commodore Orchestra perform and learn more about how the orchestra began in this video.

See more student projects and explore all of our “Students as Producers” activities by viewing our full list of resources on the topic.




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