Doyle playing for National Repertory Orchestra

Doyle playing for National Repertory Orchestra

calendar icon20 Jul 2023    

Alec Doyle
Alec Doyle

Lincoln, Neb.--Alec Doyle, a senior cello performance major in the Glenn Korff School of Music, is spending the summer playing in the National Repertory Orchestra (NRO), a training orchestra for young professionals and college students.

“My initial reaction was mainly shock,” Doyle said. “Initially they e-mailed me and told me I was on their alternate list, so I had almost made the cut, but wouldn’t have a spot unless someone else couldn’t participate. There are only seven cello spots in the NRO, so even getting an alternate position was unexpected. Shortly after that first e-mail, though, they told me they had an opening for me in the section. That’s the most excited I’ve been about anything in a while.”

Every year the NRO auditions nearly 1,000 young professional musicians between the ages of 18 and 29 from all over the country and the world. They are musicians gaining experience to help them secure their first big job in the music world. 

During an eight-week long festival between June 18-Aug. 13 in Breckenridge, Colorado, the NRO performs 17 concerts. The musicians are familiarized with the process of rehearsing and giving frequent professional-level performances. Additionally, attendees participate in local community outreach concerts and events.

“It is such a joy to have Alec Doyle in my cello studio here in the Glenn Korff School of Music,” said Professor of Cello Karen Becker. “He is one of the most motivated and focused students I’ve had the pleasure of teaching and mentoring in my 30-plus years of teaching. Alec works hard, sets clear goals for himself and is efficient in his cello practice. In addition to his love for orchestral playing, he has a real passion and gift for playing chamber music. I look forward to hearing all about his experience with the NRO and having him share it with my other cello students.”

Doyle is enjoying the experience, so far.

“It's a lot of fun to play with musicians as skilled as these and I'm learning a lot from them,” he said. “With orchestral playing at this level, it becomes more about the music and less about putting the notes together (although we have more than plenty of notes to put together), which makes the concerts and even rehearsals really engaging. The program is designed to prepare you for the intensity of a professional symphony schedule, so I am getting lots of practice reading and preparing music with very little time.”

He enjoys the performances.

“For me the best part of NRO has been performing—I've had a blast during every concert so far,” he said. “There's also the aspect of being situated in the Rocky Mountains. I've seen some of the best views of my life here and gone on some really cool hikes with really cool people.”

He appreciates the preparation that his training at UNL provided.

“Dr. Becker always has great musical advice for me on improving orchestral excerpts and repertoire, which was helpful when putting together my NRO audition video,” Doyle said. “That being said, I feel like the only thing that can prepare you for two concerts a week is to do two concerts a week. It’s certainly a drastic change from UNL’s two concerts a semester.”

But he has adjusted to the schedule.

“It’s been great so far,” he said. “The quick succession of different programs can get stressful since it's hard to catch a break (we only have Sundays off), but I've been doing my best to adjust and roll with it. I am getting better at prioritizing my practice and either figuring things out quickly during rehearsal or working them out on my own time. I do think this training will help a lot when I get back to school, since I'll have become a more efficient practicer.”

At Nebraska, Doyle is a member of the Ravnan String Quartet, named in memory of distinguished UNL Professor of Piano Audun Ravnan. The students selected to play in this quartet play instruments made by world-renowned, London-based luthier Robert Brewer Young and was made possible by a generous gift from Glenn Korff School of Music alumna Yi Xue, a student of Ravnan’s and her husband, Chi-Fang Chen, also a UNL alumnus.

Doyle also plays regularly as a substitute for the Black Hills Symphony, as well as Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra.