MISSOULA – University of Montana music student Marley Ball had a tough choice to make.

Remain in Missoula this Friday, Nov. 5, to hear guest pianist Thomas Kotcheff perform one of her original compositions at UM’s Music Recital Hall or travel to Bozeman for a performance of Modern Rock Orchestra. Ball is the instrumental rock band’s music supervisor and also has performed as one of its two cellists.

“I am staying for the recital,” said Ball, admitting somewhat ruefully that – and she’s been on the President’s 4.0 List several semesters – she can’t be in two places at once.

Marley Ball - UM Photo
Marley Ball - UM Photo

Billings native, Ball is in her senior year of music studies in UM’s School of Music and is learning through her work for Modern Rock Orchestra that putting on a show is more than just tuning your instrument and showing up to play.

“I recruit musicians, get music out to them, determine how we’re going to  arrange sections and oversee mic and stage set up,” Ball said. “It’s a lot of work but definitely worth it.”

While fluent in piano, Ball said she’s is most drawn to the cello, “because it emulates the human voice and speaks so beautifully.” Ball’s cello was made by noted string-instrument maker John Kirk of Billings.

Early in her academic career, she transferred from the University of Idaho to UM to study under Adam Collins, a visiting assistant professor of cello at UM. She knew he could take her skills with the four-string instrument to the next level.

“Marley is emblematic of the students who really thrive at UM,” said Collins, who is himself the principal cellist for the Missoula Symphony. “She is taking what she is learning in performance and music studies and applying it to important experiential learning outside of school.”

During her studies, Ball has developed a passion for genres beyond the classical realm typically associated with the cello. She enjoys stepping into the world of rock, country and blues and has played for many local bands.

“I love when string instruments are applied to these genres because it surprises people and keeps them curious about how the genre can develop,” Ball said.

As for her plans after graduation, she likely will head to a city with a slightly larger music scene, but leaving Missoula will not be easy.

“It’s super welcoming,” Ball said. “At the school everyone is so talented and collaborative. It’s like a little home.”

- by UM News Service -

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