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The Night Before Christmas At Carnegie Hall With The New York String Orchestra

 “Was your child one of the musicians?” the kindly-looking elderly woman asked as we walked out of Carnegie Hall beaming, like everyone else in the exiting audience, after the Christmas Eve all-Mozart concert. No, we told her. But then again, it was a good question, for the 61 musicians of the New York String Orchestra who had performed this evening are the children of us all, representing  the future of great orchestral performances.

From highly competitive national auditions, these gifted young musicians were selected to be participants in the 2005 New York String Orchestra Seminar, a ten-day annual event held in New York City over the winter holiday. It includes chamber-music sessions with master teachers as well as rehearsals and two performances under the direction of the acclaimed Bolivian-born violinist and conductor Jaime Laredo.

As young as 15 and as old as 22, they are American and Mexican, Canadian and Chinese, Bulgarian and Korean. Most are students at acclaimed conservatories like Curtis, Eastman, and Juilliard, but among them were an oboist from Parsippany High School in Parsippany, New Jersey and a violinist from Blue Valley North High School in Overland Park, Kansas.

It was interesting to wonder about the inspiration they drew sitting on the stage before the gilded and ornamental pilasters of the Carnegie Hall proscenium, whether they reflected upon their presence this evening as part of the continuum of legendary Carnegie Hall debuts that included Mahler’s (conducting his Second Symphony  in its American premiere), Rachmaninoff’s (performing his Piano Concerto No. 2), Stravinsky’s, Jascha Heifetz’s, Leonard Bernstein’s, Benny Goodman’s (in the first formal concert of swing music), Isaac Stern’s and so many other luminaries of the concert stage. But when it came to their enthusiasm and brio, there was no question.

Nor was their any doubt about that of Maestro Laredo’s  who has been the Orchestra’s Music Director as well as its conductor since 1993. As he guided his young charges through the complexities of the scores, congratulated his effervescent Concert Master, brass and woodwind performers, piano soloist, indeed the entire orchestra, his affection was palpable. That it was reciprocated was obvious. We could see the string players, instruments on their laps waiting for the moment they would join in again, watching him with rapt attention, locked into him.

The all-Mozart program began with a spirited rendition of the “Overture to ‘The Marriage of Figaro.’” Then the Steinway was wheeled onstage and Jonathan Biss, who at 25 was much of a piece with the youthful orchestra, played the piano portions of the “Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major” with both vigor and tenderness, particularly the heartbreakingly beautiful Andante.  The six-movement “Posthorn” Serenade with its lively horn solos was the concluding selection which the audience responded to with a thunderous ovation that led to multiple curtain calls.

The subway strike of the past week was over; the biting cold had given way to balmy breezes and temperatures in the 40’s. And it was Christmas Eve. At Carnegie Hall, the music was Mozart, the mood celebratory, and -- for the moment at least -- it seemed all was right with the world.

Carnegie Hall

Box Office:  57th Street and Seventh Avenue, New York, NY

CarnegieCharge: 212-247-7800

Photos by Harvey Frommer

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About the Authors:  Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer are a wife and husband team who successfully bridge the worlds of popular culture and traditional scholarship. Co-authors of the critically acclaimed interactive oral histories It Happened in the Catskills, It Happened in Brooklyn, Growing Up Jewish in America, It Happened on Broadway, It Happened in Manhattan, It Happened in Miami. They teach what they practice as professors at Dartmouth College.

They are also travel writers who specialize in luxury properties and fine dining as well as cultural history and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. More about these authors.

You can contact the Frommers at: 

Email: myrna.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU
Email: harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU

This Article is Copyright © 1995 - 2012 by Harvey and Myrna Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.



Photos by Harvey Frommer

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