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.
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.
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.
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.
Box Office: 57th Street
and Seventh Avenue, New York, NY
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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.
about these authors.
You can contact the Frommers at:
This Article is Copyright © 1995 - 2012 by Harvey and Myrna Frommer. All rights
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