Friday Night’s Academy Symphony and Chamber Orchestras Concert suffered quite a bit of competition: the notorious Pep Rally, the Pep Rally Dance and the theatrical production “Learned Ladies” all took place simultaneously. However, for those who chose to go to the concert over all other options, a remarkable array of performances awaited them.? The highlight of the concert was the renowned “Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor” by Sergei Rachmaninoff, performed by Andi Zhou ’09.? “Andi Zhou…What a fantastic performer! The concerto was expansive, reveling, and technically stunning,” said James Orent, conductor of the Academy Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. “The orchestra was absolutely beautiful.” ? The piece is perhaps one of the most often played and famous concertos of all time. This presented a difficult challenge for Zhou, because most of the audience was familiar with its melody.? Despite this fact, Zhou played with the technicalities and dynamic levels of a professional, leaving the audience completely awestruck. Zhou banged chords on the Steinway piano of the Chapel, and his adept fingers swiftly jumped from one end of the keyboard to the other; the audience could barely follow his flying fingers.? The Academy Symphony Orchestra supported Zhou’s performance with grave, intense accompaniment, followed by profound, beautiful wind solos.? Kaki Elgin ’09, principal hornist, commented on her solo, “The Fauré was incredibly moving, the Rachmaninoff was amazing. The Rachmaninoff was particularly nerve-wracking for me because I had a huge solo in the middle of it. I experienced some technical difficulties right before my solo, but I guess luck was with me, because the solo came out well.” ?Cellist Henry Wilkin’s ’09 performance of the “Elegié” by Gabriel Fauré was another hit of the concert. Contrasting from the grand, splendid Rachmaninoff “Piano Concerto No.2,” “Elegié” is, as the name may suggest, an elegy. Wilkin’s rendition of this piece directly portrayed the sorrowful, somber openings and also climaxes with a fast, intense section accurately depicting the despair of love.? Emily Steingart ’09, principal bassoonist said, “Henry played with great composure and really captivated the audience with a piece that isn’t particularly well-known, but he brought it to life with his passionate playing.”? Wilkin’s fortissimos and pianissimos were immaculate. His vibrato added gravity to the grieving verses, while the legatos and lighter verses were accomplished through artful cut-offs of his bow-stroke.? The Academy Symphony Orchestra successfully portrayed juxtaposing passages between sorrow and the ascension from grief. Jack You ’10, principal clarinetist, had an exceptionally virtuosic solo, artistically rendering the short intervals in happiness of the elegy.? Co-principal cellist, Bobby Chen ’10 said, “Both soloists created masterful performances. I was also impressed with the way the orchestra stayed with both of them. In the past, that has been a frequent problem. Today, I think we did a good job.”? The repertoire did not consist of only concertos. The Corelli Ensemble, Amadeus Ensemble and Academy Chamber Orchestras performed great pieces by Antonín Dvorák and Felix Mendelssohn. The concert started with the performances by the Corelli Ensemble. The Corelli Ensemble managed to pull off a decent performance of Antonin Dvorák’s Bagatelle, Op.47 No.5, although the ensemble could have done better with intonation.? The Amadeus Ensemble performed Symphony No. 9 by Felix Mendelssohn, a grieving and emotional piece, also featuring a soloist: Rachel Ryu ’12 on the violin. The Amadeus Ensemble was mostly in tune, and the players successfully kept their rhythm and coordination together. The pianos and fortes of the piece were executed well; each contrasting dynamic was clearly portrayed.? Czech Suite by Antonin Dvorák, performed by the Academy Chamber Orchestra, was yet another highlight of the evening. Conducted by James Orent, the orchestra immaculately played the calm, soothing melody of the first movement, light, soft second movement, and finally the fierce, explosive finale. The absolutely outstanding sounds of the orchestra enriched the Cochran Chapel, receiving a grand applause from the audience. It seems fair to say that those who did not go to the concert were the ones who missed out.?