Unwinding With Unger

Late, late! I stared at my watch in regret as I ran out of the gym to the Chapel. The pep rally was interesting, but the orchestra concert was not something to be left out! Luckily, when I entered the chapel, I had only missed two pieces. Yet they were two of the most personally appealing pieces to me; Justin Chew ’07 and Lily Stein ’07, performers of those pieces, are both close friends of mine. They were featured as solo pianist and violinist in “Concerto Grosso No. 2” played by Corelli, and “Ashokan Farewell” written by Jay Ungar. “I liked the texture of the pieces,” said Chew after the concert. “They are calming, and really enhance the whole atmosphere.” Following Chew and Stein, Yunsoo Kim ’07 stepped on stage. Accompanied by the Corelli Ensemble, Kim played the light tune of “Little Fandango” by composer Michael Mclean. There are three Academy Orchestras: Corelli, Amadeus, and Chamber. Together they form the Symphony Orchestra. “The members of Corelli are rather young, so their pieces are generally slower and more tentative than the ones by older students,” Jacqui LeBoutillier ’04 said. “But they are absolutely beautiful. I am here to unwind myself on such a lovely Friday evening.” After Kim brought Corelli’s part of the concert to its close, the Amadeus Ensemble took its place. The first piece played by Amadeus, “Prayer of Saint Gregory” by Alan Hovhaness, featured trumpeter Benjamin Heller ’05 and guest conductor Nicholas Pappadopoulos ’04. North Reading resident Walter, grandfather of bassoonist Helen Fitzmaurice ’05, commented “[Heller] was amazing.” Pappadopoulos, in his first conducting effort, was equally stunning. Though I could not see his face, his body language was sufficient for the Amadeus ensemble to take the piece to a new height. Next, two female violinists, Sol Jin ’07 and Gina Kim ’07 opened the “Concerto for Two Violins in A Minor” by Antonio Vivaldi with a delightful note. Jin was very passionate. She frowned occasionally as she rubbed her bow against the strings, and seemed to treat her violin as a person to whom she tried to talk. Kim, on the other hand, was much more mellow, her frilled skirt staying perfectly still while she played. The two, in their contrasting styles, complemented each other perfectly. The director, Peter Warsaw, was also very lively on the podium as he turned frequently to face different sections of the Ensemble. After a brief pause, violist Hilary Papantonio ’04 walked out from the side door in a glamorous pink dress to perform the third movement of Saint-Saens’s “Violin Concerto No. 3.” In the piece, Papantonio frequently pizzed (plucked the strings), creating a somewhat creepy effect. The flute joined in the middle to take the piece to a more peaceful state of reflection. Just as I began to relax, the tone climbed up and grew faster and I felt as if I were caught in the middle of a battle ground. The trumpet in the distance made it a very intense yet triumphant battle. Soon I was again thrown back to a quiet surrounding, yet the unstable sounds from the viola signaled the coming of a grand finale. I waited for the tension to build up, and indeed, it came. The beauty of it took away my breath. Kathleen O’Reilly ’04 appeared after the intermission. She sat right in front of me, the angle of her seating highlighting her diamond earrings and the smooth black surface of the piano. Her melancholy piece, Schumann’s “Piano Concerto in A minor,” was characterized by general downward movement in the melody. The music unfolded when the Academy Chamber Orchestra joined in with her. It was as if there were layers upon layers of melody, one emerging after another. William Thomas, director of the Chamber Orchestra, said, “Schumann is known to write songlike music.” Indeed, the piece seemed to me as a constant murmur from a storyteller. Jennifer Jhun ’04, in her splendid red dress, captured everyone’s attention from the beginning. Her chosen piece, “Gypsy Airs” by Pablo de Sarasate, was a piece that I could relate to and was able to understand the most. Though I am not quite sure how she accomplished it, as soon as she started to play her violin, I sensed a real Gypsy air rapidly surrounding me. The piece, according to Jhun, told a story of “a Gypsy who lost his lover.” Jhun was definitely forceful in her performance; the pitch was so high that I was afraid the strings would break any second. The speed with which Jhun moved her bow was unbelievable; she was the complete master of her instrument. The piece was at least 13 minutes long, and Jhun finished it without reading a single note. “That was incredible, she memorized it all in her head,” Fitzmaurice said. When the Symphony Orchestra finally came together at the end of the concert, they played “From the New World” by Antonin Dvorak. The beginning of the music sounded extremely familiar because it was borrowed by the composer of the Negro spiritual “Going Home.” Instructor in Music William Thomas said, “The music of the entire concert was chosen based on what we got in our Orchestra this year. We featured strong sections of the Orchestra, such as English horn, oboe, flute, clarinet, and timpani.”