Academy Orchestras Carry Listeners “Across the Stars”

The orchestra concert last Friday carried audience members to distant galaxies and times past. The Corelli Ensemble, directed by Instructor in Music Elizabeth Aureden, blasted off the concert with its well-harmonized tune of “Capriol Suite for String Orchestra” by Peter Warlock. Corelli played four of the six movements, each with a different theme and emotional state. The suite began with a bright “Basse-Danse,” which was followed by a grave “Pavane.” The “Tordion” skipped briskly across the chapel as the performers strummed their strings in pizzicato. The suite ended with “Bransle,” which conveyed boisterous joy to the listeners. However, this was only the beginning of a vivid concert with much more to offer. The Amadeus Ensemble continued with Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Quartet C minor, Op.18, No.4.” The mind-clearing tune was in harmony with the tension created by the violins’ high-pitched sound. Next, Chamber Orchestra moved listeners with the sad, rich “Adagio for Strings, Op.11” by Samuel Barber. The poised “Andante” and dancing “Menuetto” from Mozart’s “Symphony No.35 in D Major, K. 385, ‘Haffner’” provided a welcome, more light-hearted relief. However, it was the piece that followed that brought the audience to its feet. Luigi Bassi’s “Concert Fantasia on Motives by Giuseppe Verdi” spotlighted clarinet virtuoso Jack You ’10, who stunned the audience with his sincere, passionate performance. Many visitors form outside of Phillips Academy attended the concert. One of the visitors, Margaret Stevens, said, “[His] performance was amazing. He must have lost about ten pounds just from sweating as he played.” Aureden said, “Everybody did really well even though it had been a tough week of school. [Jack] was really great, especially to play with a specific style and characteristic. I think everybody really responded and listened as he played.” After a brief intermission, the Academy Symphony Orchestra conducted by Instructor in Music James Orent kept the audience hooked until the end. Pianist Jennifer Miao ’10 walked toward the podium in a striking turquoise gown to perform Frederic Chopin’s “Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor, Op. 21.” The strings provided the gentle background while Miao’s graceful runs flowed smoothly through the air like a steady liquid. Miao said, “I was really excited and nervous before I went up to the stage, but once I started playing the piece I felt oddly calm. I felt tranquil and tried my best to stay focused.” “It was a great experience because I felt a connection to the music. I was so glad that the audience enjoyed it,. They were amazing and supportive.” Alberto de la Cruz ’11 said, “[Miao] was very talented. Her piano sounded really smooth throughout the whole piece.” Timpani player Peter Lorenco, Instructor in Music, said, “Everybody practiced really hard for this concert, especially Jack You and Jennifer Miao. They showed up to every practice and put a lot of hard work into it.” Miao’s delightful performance was followed by “Slavonic Dance No.4 in F major, Op.46” by Antonin Dvorak and the invigorating “Der Zigeunerbaron Overture” by Johann Strauss, Jr. In “Der Zigeunerbaron Overture” the strings were in perfect harmony, with a vibrato that gave the piece a romantic flare. “Der Zigeunerbaron Overture” featured a playful, flawlessly-executed oboe solo from Steve Kim ’11 that provided a light touch to the forceful gypsy tale. The piece grandly reverberated throughout the chapel as the sounds of the oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn fitted into the intricate harmony. After the initial flourish, the end of the concert took on a solemn turn. Symphony Orchestra performed its encore, John William’s “Across the Stars” from “Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones” in loving memory of Moises Carrasco, principal tuba for nearly twenty years. Before the piece began, Orent told the audience, “Moises Carrasco was a very special friend to us…He had a Buddha-like presence within the orchestra. Even when he wasn’t playing in the orchestra, he was always there. He enjoyed and loved the vibe of music, and there was always a spirited smile on his face.” Carrasco’s son Max, who plays bass in orchestra placed his father’s tuba on the podium before the piece started. When the piece opened with a distant, dreamy viola introduction, audience members bowed their heads in condolence. A wistful, distant oboe solo transcended time and transported the audience light-years away. Oboist Kim said, “I was under a lot of pressure, particularly because we were attributing ‘Across the Stars’ for our tubist Moises Carrasco. Though I did not know him particularly well, I wanted to play the best I could for him, and I think everything turned out well.” Towards the end, a flawless harp solo by Emily Adler ’12 highlighted the dramatic yet beautiful tune. “Across the Stars” echoed to the deepest corners of the chapel and faded away into the night sky.