Philharmonic Orchestra Debuts in Elfers


David Li ’21

Fabio Witkowski conducts the Philharmonic Orchestra during its debut concert in Elfers Hall.

In the newly-formed Philharmonic Orchestra, familiar faces and guests joined together to create a night of unforgettable music. On February 23, the Philharmonic Orchestra, consisting of selected members of the Hotchkiss Orchestra and professional musicians, debuted with pianist Mr. Leonel Morales at Elfers Hall. 

The hour-long concert was divided into two parts. The concert opened with the orchestra playing Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony No.1 in C major,” a piece with impetuous rhythms and unpredictable harmonies.

With accompaniment from the orchestra, Mr. Morales performed the second piece, Frederic Chopin’s “Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor.” Mr. Morales then returned with an encore, playing “Malagueña,” by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona.

The school invited 27 professionals from top local orchestras to collaborate with the most experienced students from the school’s orchestra. Mr. Fabio Witkowski, director of the music program and conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra, said, “Not only [does] the community get to enjoy an amazing orchestra, it’s also a wonderful opportunity for students to expand their musical skills. They worked with professionals, learned many pieces of good music, and performed a great high-level concert.”

As a regular guest of the school, Mr. Morales also offered guidance to music students by teaching a masterclass before the concert. Mr. Morales worked with a few experienced piano students to provide technical suggestions and inspire them to interpret music in new ways.

Ricky Shi ’22, who attended the masterclass, said, “I learned about the importance of details in music, especially the dynamics. I would love to have more masterclasses [in the future], because it’s always great to have someone fresh to teach [me] something different, something I never knew before.”

The concert garnered positive feedback from the audience, especially music students. Ben Do ’22 said, “[T]he second movement of the Chopin concerto stood out the most to me. Mr. Morales’s execution was amazingly clear, with great expression and marvelous rubato.”

The music program will continue to facilitate collaboration between students and music professionals. The next event of the concert series in Elfers Hall is the piano duo of Mr. Fabio Witkowski and Dr. Gisele Witkowski, on April 6.