FMU string ensemble performs original from alumna

The FMU String Ensemble performed four pieces, including one composed by a recent FMU graduate, from 7:30 to 8 p.m. on March 24 in Performing Arts Center (PAC).  

The ensemble, guided by conductor Terry Roberts, had been preparing for the concert for around two 2 ½ half months, holding nine rehearsals – one a week – before the performance. One piece, titled “Through the Fire” was composed by a 2020 FMU graduate, Ashley Henry. The ensemble received the piece three rehearsals before they set out to perform.  

Henry’s original piece contains four movements, though, due to time constraints, only the first and last movements were performed by the ensemble. Before her piece commenced, Henry addressed the audience and spoke briefly on the piece’s background.  

“Take use of your professors,“ Henry said. “They want to help you, and they want you to succeed.”  

Henry said consulting others helped her to finish “Through the Fire,” as she felt it was too repetitive before completing it.  

“I knew she was putting a portfolio together, and I said, ‘We can play part of this for you,’” Roberts said. “These days, it’s hard for young composers to get their music played.”  

The ensemble performed other works as well, including Henry Purcell’s “Dido & Aeneas” Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Adagio” and Isaac Albeniz’s “Asturias,” which was originally a piano piece.  

One piece the ensemble performed was not in the program’s bulletin: the Ukrainian national anthem. The group played the anthem before the performance began to support Ukraine’s fight in the Russo-Ukrainian War, which recently escalated. The ensemble also wore Ukrainian flag pins attached to their shirts to show their support.  

One of the ensemble’s two violinists and a retired physicist, Yuri Lvovsky, hails from Ukraine. According to Roberts, the group’s performance of the Ukrainian national anthem was also in solidarity with Lvovsky.  

The FMU String Ensemble consists of a mixture of retirees, professors and students, a combination seen as profitable by Roberts.  

“[The older players] help the younger kids with how to play and style,” Roberts said. “It’s really a win situation for me; it’s like they’re mentoring the younger people. It’s a very good learning experience, which is what you want to have in a school ensemble.”  

The string ensemble’s performance was the last of the semester, but the PAC will host several other concerts in the coming months. 

“In April, my ensemble is playing their big concert here. Two days before that, there is the jazz chamber ensemble. Then, in the last week of classes, there is the choir,” Roberts said. “There are still four ensembles. And then, we have some dance recitals coming up, senior recitals coming up.”  

Roberts is also the music director at the Florence Symphony Orchestra, and his ensemble will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 11, in the PAC. More information on the group can be found at as well as a donation link to the symphony’s annual fund. Performances at the PAC are free to FMU students who present their student ID. To see all of their upcoming events, go to