Baylor School of Music alumna stuns at Waco Hall

Guest violinist and fiddler Mia Orosco-Kelso joined the Waco Symphony Orchestra for a performance on Jan. 20. Photo by Emma Weidmann | Staff Writer

By Emma Weidmann | Staff Writer

​​Waco Symphony Orchestra took the stage on Thursday in Waco Hall alongside champion violinist and Baylor graduate Mia Orosco-Kelso. The program was much to be expected from an orchestra concert, with familiar pieces such as “William Tell Overture,” but the end of the concert brought an unexpected surprise.

The guest violinist and fiddler Mia Orosco-Kelso joined the orchestra for a performance of Camille Saint-Saens’ “Rondo Capriccioso,” a floating, playful tune dominated by the strings. Although the piece itself may sound light and fluffy, the work that goes into putting on a concert is not.

“Going into this performance, I just felt that I know what this piece is going to mean to these musicians on stage, so I have to work hard to make sure I do the same,” Kelso said.

Kelso spent her undergraduate years in Waco at the Baylor School of Music playing violin, piano and some trombone. She said she learned to be a well-rounded musician, as music students are encouraged to branch out instead of becoming extremely sharp players of a single instrument.

“All of the music students are really expected to be organized and work hard,” Kelso said. “I think in terms of how the School of Music has inspired and impacted me is just simply holding music at a great value and working really hard to do so.”

However, all students benefit from such an endorsement of the performing arts, regardless of their major.

St. Jacob, Ill., freshman Megan Darby said she enjoyed the performance more because she was able to recognize some of the music.

“It’s more relatable rather than some of the things you’d ordinarily hear at symphonies,” Darby said. “I definitely think that going to things like this is very important. I think it’s very important to all of these people who are spending a lot of time and energy to put these things on for us, and I also just think it’s very enriching to have these music experiences in your life.”

After nearly two hours of classical pieces from the 19th century, Kelso came on stage one last time. Rather than classical, Kelso pivoted to a bluegrass tune, joined by a bassist and a guitarist. Her stiletto heels tapped on the wooden stage to keep time as her violin was turned into a fiddle and Waco Hall changed from a concert hall in France to the Grand Ole Opry.

The bluegrass song at the end of the concert, a piece from the 1920’s called “Sally Goodin,” came as a surprise and stood in such stark contrast to the entirety of the program. Not only does the sound of the fiddle differ from traditional violin, but the techniques involved require a certain level of dexterity to jump between the two.

“The two just don’t really mesh in any way. Over the years, I’ve learned how to navigate from one to the other without them influencing each other. I call it being bilingual,” Kelso said. “That’s something that I’m really grateful for now, that I can flip a switch and have something different to offer to the audience.”