Spring Senior Concerto Spotlights

Whether it be in Phillips Academy’s chamber music, solo or orchestral performances, cellist Rainer Crosett ’10 and violist Jacob Shack ’10 never fail to make an appearance. To celebrate the nearing end of their music career at Phillips Academy, the Symphony and Chamber Orchestras will showcase their senior concertos on May 21st. Rainer Crosett ’10 Crosett’s upcoming senior concerto is not to be thought as yet another sleepy classical performance. No piece gets as showy and passionate as the “Cello Concerto No.1 in A Minor” by Camille Saint-Saens. Having already won a concerto competition with this piece, Crosett will have listeners on the edges of their seats. The concerto begins with a powerful chord immediately in the orchestra followed by an intense, glorious cello entrance. The frenzied scales near the opening later meet with melancholic, lyrical cello solos that show off Crosett’s technical and musical ability. The Academy Symphony Orchestra will accompany Crosett to achieve the particularly big sound the piece needs. Crosett said, “I decided to play this piece mainly for convenience, because I recently performed it with…the Quincy Symphony Orchestra as the winner of their concerto competition. Also, it is a wonderful concerto and a staple of the repertoire.” “The concerto is written in the French style and is one of the most expertly orchestrated cello concertos ever written. Saint-Saens carefully balanced orchestral parts and the solo line to ensure that the soloist can project over the orchestra with ease. The concerto also features excellent contrast between the virtuosic and the lyrical, in truly great romantic fashion.” Crosett will enjoy playing with the orchestra. “I hope that by the time of the concert the orchestra will know the piece well enough to give me the flexibility I need to perform it artistically,” he said. For Crosett, performing this concerto is both a recollection of the past and a step forward: he first learned the piece as a very young student, and it now marks the conclusion of his four years at Phillips Academy. He said, “Now I’m returning to it with greater experience. It’s much easier for me to play this time, and I can have more fun with it because my musicianship and technical skills are at a much higher level now.” Crosett’s musical achievements are somewhat intimidating but very impressive. He began playing the cello in the third grade, but he became a serious player in seventh grade, quite late for a performer as skilled as he is. Among many of his accomplishments and awards, Crosett has been featured on the National Public Radio show “From the Top,” and he was one of the few students accepted to the Columbia-Julliard exchange program this year, along with Jacob Shack ’10 and Bobby Chen ’10. Jacob Shack ’10, Viola It is difficult to find a high school violist as devoted as Jacob Shack ’10, who has played in Phillips Academy’s orchestras since the 7th grade, before he even entered the school. Shack will perform the “Rhapsody Concerto for Viola and Orchestra” by Bohuslav Martinu with Chamber Orchestra. The “Rhapsody Concerto” begins with peaceful, melodious chords from the orchestra. The viola sneaks in with a beautiful melody that reoccurs throughout the piece. Though classical in nature, the “Rhapsody Concerto” is mixed with a few dissonant, blues-style chords that give tension and ‘jab’ to the piece. Shack said, “I chose [the piece] because it is very lyrical and melodic but also has a healthy mix of technical passages for both the viola and the orchestra. I like Martinu’s use of the hemiola, because it creates rhythmic and harmonic tension.” Shack began working on this concerto over the summer, after one of his friends played a recording of the piece. “I fell in love with it after that,” said Shack. The “Rhapsody Concerto” will definitely pose a challenge for both the orchestra and Shack, as it is filled with both fast, technical sections and delicate, lyrical verses. In a piece whose delicacy and grace of sound matter so much, the smaller Chamber Orchestra is fit to perform. Shack said, “I am looking forward to playing my concerto with Chamber Orchestra…The initial rehearsals have been a little tough because of the rhythmic complexity of the piece, but things are progressing nicely. I’ve been looking forward to playing my senior concerto since the seventh grade, when I first started playing viola in the PA orchestras. I’m glad that I finally get to do it.” Shack said, “I started playing viola in 6th grade, mostly by teaching myself. I was playing violin at the time. I started taking viola lessons in eighth grade with a teacher at the New England Conservatory Preparatory Division and switched completely to viola in 10th grade.” “I also love the rich, deep sound that the viola has over the violin,” said Shack. Watching and listening to a violist as skilled as Shack is a rare opportunity. For students with concert requirements, this will be a nice deviation from performances on the violin, which, according to Shack, “can be screechy.”