Orchestras Command Cochran Stage

Winter vacation and the holidays may be over, but pleasant memories of last term’s final moments still linger. A holiday sparkle hung in the air as members of the Academy Orchestras played on an illuminated chapel stage set with wreathes and candles. The Corelli Ensemble, directed by instructor Holly Barnes, gave a sincere beginning to the concert with Quartet No. 1, Op. 49, by Dmitri Shostakovich. The quartet was light and soothing; the violins’ high sweeps contrasting with the low beat of the cellos and lone viola created a sense of peace. The Amadeus Ensemble, under the direction of instructor Peter Warsaw, guided the audience through the mysterious nuances of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis. The violins, violas, cellos, and bass spun a tale of adventure in far-away lands. The ensemble utilized great dynamics and harmony to captivate the audience with rolling waves of sound. Soloists Sol Jin ’07 and Gina Kim ’07 on violin, Isabel Ritchie ’05 on viola, and Nathan Pirakitikulr ’05 on cello narrated a slightly melancholy story of travel with a nostalgic depth. The Academy Chamber Orchestra, directed by William Thomas, took the stage and began with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Piano Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052 – Allegro, lead by piano soloist Jina Lee ’04. The fast-paced Concerto was very different from Fantasia, and variation kept the audience hooked as the more traditional sounds of Bach reverberated throughout the Chapel. The orchestra demonstrated great timing and good balance highlighting Lee’s shining solo. As Lee played, her hands seemed to dance as a blur traveled up and down the ivory keys. Antonio Vivaldi’s Winter Op. 8, No. 4 from The Four Seasons caroled through the Chapel with violin solos. Each of the soloists celebrated a different aspect of winter. Arianna Warsaw-Fan ’04 played Allegro non molto. Warsaw-Fan’s solo resounded with youth and amazing speed as she rejoiced in life with an intense natural voice. Elizabeth Robie ’04 presented the slower, more serene Largo; Robie painted a distant portrait of a long life of winters. Eugene Kim ’04 picked up the pace again with Allegro, infusing the piece more with knowing urgency than raw energy. Vivaldi’s winter was strong, pure, and perfectly timed, stirring warm feelings of recollection. Piotr Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35, with Homan Lee ’04 playing violin solo, was incredible; William Thomas described it in the concert-preview during All-School Meeting on December 3 as “akin to Shakespeare.” The Academy Chamber Orchestra demonstrated its skill in blending sound, working together to build a strong yet supportive background against which Lee could shine. Lee played with his whole self, completely absorbed in the music and drawing in the audience. Spectators found themselves blended with the orchestra in huge waves, and danced alone in swirling, complicated steps. The Concerto was very long, but time in quantified minutes was impossible to count, as the music lifted everyone up, out of normal time, to a world of music. When the piece stopped, and attention shifted back to the chapel, Lee and the Orchestra received a standing ovation. The large Academy Symphony Orchestra, also directed by William Thomas, trumpeted forth with Antonín Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9 “From The New World”, Op. 95 – Adagio – Allegro molto. The New World was a change from Tchaikovsky, and brought the audience back to earth with its huge, forceful proclamation that vibrated up through our bones. To cap off a spectacular night of talent and sound, the Chamber Orchestra played Chanukah Celebration, a traditional song arranged by Sandy Feldstein – complete with shouts from the entire ensemble of “Chanukah!;” and a medley of carols, “A Christmas Festival, by Leroy Anderson.” The orchestra executed the transitions between carols well, and their grand sound, produced by so many members, and final cymbal crash, was a great finish to a fantastic night. The holiday spirit was evident as the audience poured out of the Chapel into the snowy winter cold.