"Old Friends, New Beginnings" is the title of this year's UT orchestra season, and the reasoning was apparent with Sunday night's performance in the Alumni Memorial Building with guest conductor Huw Edwards.

With the new Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, all the orchestra needed was a few timeless compositions.

The two-hour concert included the works "Prelude to Die Meistersinger" by Richard Wagner, "Triumphal March" from Aida by Guiseppe Verdi and "Symphony No. 8 in G Major" by Antonin Dvorak.

The use of classic works in the concert proved popular with the audience.

"I liked all of the music, but the Dvorak was my favorite," Susan Compton, mother of violinist Sarah Compton, said.

While Compton had a favorite, Inna Karsheva, a junior majoring in violin performance, said she couldn't choose between these works.

"They're all such great pieces," Karsheva said, "and I love playing them."

James Fellenbaum, the director of orchestras, opened the concert with a few words about this season's theme.

"The new Natalie L. Haslam Music Center is a wonderful facility that we have been waiting for a long time," Fellenbaum said. "That is the reason that I titled the season 'Old Friends, New Beginnings.' We certainly are having a lot of new beginnings this year."

The Haslam Music Center includes a 400 seat recital hall, music library, 45 practice rooms and a recording and mixing lab, according to the School's website.

Fellenbaum went on to add that despite the changes in faces or facilities, returning students and composers whose music they play represent old friends.

According to the schedule in their program, more of these old friends include Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Dvorak, Vaughn-Williams and Wagner. The most notable, perhaps, is Tchaikovsky, whose famous ballet "The Nutcracker" will be played by the Chamber Orchestra.

"Half of the orchestra will be playing the complete Nutcracker with the Oak Ridge Civic Ballet Association, helping them celebrate their 50th anniversary," Fellenbaum said.

Karsheva will be one of the violinists performing in the show.

"I'm very excited about it, I've never had the chance to play 'The Nutcracker,'" Karsheva said.

The season contains not only works by well-known composers, but also features concertos and arias from the winners of the annual UT Concerto Competition. These will be played at the CMS Conference and Severinsen Compostition Concert.

"Doc Severnisen has sponsored a composition contest that is going on nationally and internationally," Fellenbaum said. "There were at last count over one hundred orchestra and wind ensemble scores submitted for consideration."

The winners and the pieces to be played will be announced and performed in February. The performance will feature renowned trumpeters Vince DiMartino and Allen Vizzuti, according to the contest's website.

Those not participating in the chamber orchestra will move on to perform with the UT Opera Theater in "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" by Rossini and "Cosi fan tutte" by Mozart.

Admission for the Orchestra is free unless otherwise posted. The cost for entrance to the Opera Theater is $5 for students.

More information and a full concert schedule can be found on the Orchestra Program's website, or the School of Music concert line at 865-974-5678.