Senior Send-Offs Commence: Academy Orchestra Concert Features Huang ’03 and McManus ’03

Two young talented musicians, both Phillips Academy seniors, captivated the packed audience in the Cochran Chapel last Friday night with their passionate performances. The concert also showcased the results of the hard work and dedication of the orchestras and ensembles over the course of the term. The Corelli Ensemble, directed by Chair of the Music Department Elizabeth Aureden, opened the concert with Norman Dello Joio’s A Lyrical Movement for String Orchestra. Joio was considered one of America’s leading composers during the 1940’s. He is also an internationally recognized musician. A prolific composer to this day, Joio at the age of 90 continues to compose and accept commissions from orchestras and individuals throughout the country. A Lyrical Movement for String Orchestra started slowly, with the soft sound of violins followed by contrasting low tones of cello. As the piece continued, it started to pick up pace. Although the relatively new piece challenged both the director and the orchestra with a more modern composition that differed sharply from classical pieces, the Corelli Ensemble successfully managed to express the tension between the strings and prevent the music from becoming monotonous. Transporting the audience from the 21st century back to the early 18th century, the Amadeus Ensemble, directed by Instructor in Music Peter Warsaw, played J.S. Bach’s Double Concerto in D minor for two violins, BWV 1043. One of the most famous and popular of all Bach’s works, the concerto has been transcribed a variety of instruments, and recorded innumerable times. The Amadeus Ensemble presented two soloists for each movement. The first movement, “Vivace,” featured Jami Makan ’04 and David Heighinton ’06. The pair successfully provided energy and excitement to the opening movement. Makan, who is also a talented pianist, showed potential on the violin. The second movement, slow and perhaps the most beautiful moment in the concerto, featured Amy Tsao ’05 and Iris Tien ’04, both of whom did a great job. The last movement, “Allegro,” brought Andrew Hsiao ’06 and Paul Kim ’05 to the front. Hsiao especially performed in a very stable manner and showed proficiency in technique and in controlling his emotions. The Academy Chamber Orchestra, directed under Instructor in Music William Thomas, presented the audience with the witty Hoedown from Rodeo by American folk composer Aaron Copland. The group seemed as if it was having a blast playing the piece, and the audience complemented the performance with warm applause after the piece had ended. The first senior concerto of the two started with Joan Huang ’03’s rendition of Camille Saint-Saens’s Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso on the violin. The introduction started with beautiful harmony created by Huang and the orchestra. Huang managed to play the melancholy introduction under great control. Although she missed the very first note on the Rondo Capriccioso, she showed great virtuosity during the end of the peice. The orchestra also strongly supported and accented Huang’s playing. Huang applied her clear and candid tone to the music. Both the audience and the orchestra heartily applauded Huang. After a short intermission, Andrew McManus ’03 came on stage to play Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2. He played all three movements, which is unusual for a senior concerto, where most students play only the first one or two movements. This was not McManus’s first time playing a piano concerto with the Academy Chamber Orchestra. He successfully played a Mozart piano concerto in his Upper year during the Parents’ Weekend concert. On Friday, McManus demonstrated great improvement since that previous performance. He has been practicing Shostakovich since his Upper spring, and the concert showed off his hard work and talent in a stunning display of technical proficiency and emotion. The first few measures of the piece featured the soft marching tone of the orchestra, followed by the piano’s playing the melody. McManus kept the clean and powerful tone throughout the piece and during the second movement, “Andante,” he played the music beautifully with tenderness and understanding. The finale was Johannes Brahms’s Academic Festival Overture played by the Academy Symphony Orchestra, directed by William Thomas. This ambitious piece was played carefully and charmingly and, not surprisingly, received the most applause from the audience.