Ortiz, Weiss Make History with Senior concertos

Two extraordinary PA seniors made history last Friday night in their performances of concertos which haven’t been successfully performed at Phillips Academy in two decades, according to Instructor of Music William Thomas. Pianist Luis Ortiz ’05 and Cellist Meta Weiss ’05 were “the only two students in the last twenty years of Phillips Academy who could have successfully played those pieces of music,” said Thomas after the concert. The two musicians performed concertos as the highlighted soloists of the night, along with many other PA student soloists, and awed the audience in the process. Together with the Academy Chamber Orchestra, Ortiz performed one of the most anticipated pieces of the evening: Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto No. 5 in E flat Major. Performing the Allegro, he demonstrated a technical ability and musical prowess rarely seen at the school. Ortiz impressed the audience especially with the control and command he demonstrated over the piano. Never letting emotion get the best of him, he successfully executed the most difficult passages of the piece without flinching and gave a steady and inspiring performance of one of the great standards of classical piano repertoire. The relationship between the soloist and the orchestra added a new element of difficulty to the piece; Ortiz cited the interaction as one of the harder things to get used to when playing a piece of this nature. Thomas agreed that this interaction contributes to concertos’ reputation as harder than other types of music: “Each soloist has their own ideas when it comes to playing a piece of music and those different ideas need to be reconciled with each other,” said Thomas. Following an intermission, Weiss took the stage with to play the Allegro of the Dvorak Cello Concerto in B minor. The Dvorák concerto is recognized as a major piece of cello repertoire for distinguished cellists. Weiss prepared diligently with the piece’s difficulty in mind throughout her rehearsal process. She worked quickly with the orchestra to integrate the solo voice with the ensemble instead of working on technical details. Because of her hard work, the performance went very smoothly, and the concerto, as Thomas said, was a resounding success. “All who heard Luis and Meta were moved, not only by the extraordinary technical facility displayed by both soloists, but by the depth of understanding and profound communication skills shared by these two remarkable artists,” added Thomas. Indeed, his statement was verified by their flawless performances. Another notable soloist of the program was cellist Marina Warsaw-Fan ’07, accompanied by the Amadeus Ensemble in her performance of Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major in its entirety. Directed by Instructor of Music Peter Warsaw, the group used the first movement, the Moderato, to get comfortable with the presence of the soloist. The slower second movement, Adagio, showcased Warsaw-Fan’s musicality and sense of line and dynamics, while the final Allegro molto demonstrated her technical superiority. The evening was rounded out with two numbers performed by the Academy Symphony Orchestra: the Andante moderato and the Allegro vivace of the Overture to Rossini’s opera “The Barber of Seville,” and a medley of three songs from Kander and Ebb’s musical “Chicago,” arranged by Victor Lopez. The excerpts from “Chicago” pushed the tone of the evening away from classical. The orchestra added a fun, sentimental Boston twist as icing on the cake, breaking out into an unannounced rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” narrated by the Instructor of Music Christopher Walter, honoring our new World Champions.