This fall, Florida Southern College will welcome the offices of the Imperial Symphony Orchestra, a non-profit  community orchestra.

According to its website, the ISO is comprised of about 80 musicians, most of which are volunteers. The ISO plays both orchestral pieces and produces an opera each year, which has often taken place at Branscomb Auditorium.

Now the orchestra’s offices will be moving to FSC. The ISO contacted Dr. Anne Kerr, FSC’s president, and began discussions. Paula Parschẻ, music department chair, said that Kerr was supportive of the ISO coming to campus, and the search began.

“[The ISO] looked around the campus and talked to people like Terry Dennis and Kyle Fedler. Lo and behold, they found a place where they could put the offices,” Parschẻ said.

Several locations were considered, but many of them did not have the space that the ISO’s offices would need.

An area near the Melvin Art Gallery was originally considered. However, the final decision was made to put the ISO’s offices in the Branscomb Box Office near the music department.

“Our first thought was we really wanted them down near Branscomb. I mean, that just made the most sense,” Dr. Kyle Fedler, provost, said.

The building is currently undergoing construction to make room for the ISO’s offices.

“It required some renovation, a little bit of creativity there, but they just decided that it would be a great, visible way for Florida Southern to support a community arts organization,” Parschẻ said.

The design for the remodeled box office is styled after the Honeyman Pavilion with its use of glass. The construction is scheduled to be completed in the fall, and the official ribbon cutting ceremony will be in January.

The ISO is scheduled to move into its offices once the renovations are completed, and have already begun using the music department’s facilities for some of their rehearsals.

“By having them here on campus rehearsing a lot, our students can actually sit in and listen to the rehearsals,” Parschẻ said. “They can kind of see a really fine conductor at work. Mark Thielen is a terrific conductor, and just to have him on our campus doing that provides a great experience for our students.”

Fedler said that the ISO’s presence may provide other opportunities for students too.

“We have a music management degree and so, having students watch how a professional symphony orchestra, just in terms of bookings and vendors and selecting music and selling tickets; all the things that go into music management, they’ll be able to do that much more closely,” Fedler said. “So we hope to have several interns work [with the ISO], as opposed to having to go downtown and do everything, they can just be right here.”

The ISO will have the benefit of having their office next to where they have their rehearsals.

“I think it’s just a win-win for everyone,” Fedler said.

Fedler believes that the ISO’s presence will help strengthen FSC’s commitment to the arts. FSC will also be adding musical theatre and dance to its choice of majors soon.

“We put a lot of emphasis in some pre-professional programs, but we don’t want to forget that at our heart, we are also a liberal arts and fine arts institution,” Fedler said.



Photo courtesy of Katie Daughtrey