Philharmonic Orchestra Kicks off with Tchaikovsky

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Philharmonic Orchestra Kicks off with Tchaikovsky

Sea Phongsphetrarat ’23

Sea Phongsphetrarat ’23

Sea Phongsphetrarat ’23

Silence settled like a mist over Elfers Hall. All eyes were trained on Noam Ginsparg ’22, who sat center stage, cello and bow in hand. The community drew a collective breath, soon to revel in a memorable night of emotion and expression. On October 4, Elfers hosted the Hotchkiss Philharmonic Orchestra Gala Opening Concert, which united students and professional musicians.
Established in 2018 through the generosity of Barbara Walsh Hostetter ’77 and her husband, the Philharmonic is comprised of 57 musicians, including 9 music instructors at the school, 20 music students, and 28 professional musicians from orchestras including The Hartford Symphony, New Haven Symphony, and Wallingford Symphony. The orchestra was led by conductor Marc Moncusí, who has previously worked with both professional and youth orchestras.
The all-Tchaikovsky program opened with “Capriccio Italien, op. 45,” played by the entire orchestra; “Variations on a Rococo Theme, op. 33 for Cello and Orchestra,” soloed by Noam Ginsparg ’22; and lastly, Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bb minor, op. 23 soloed by Mr. Fabio Witkowski, head of the visual and performing arts department. According to Mr. Witkowski, the performance focused on Tchaikovsky’s music because of audience interest and the technical challenges it provides for performers. He said, “[Tchaikovsky] offers every single player awesome music and challenging lines.”
Although solo cellist Ginsparg has played his piece in performances prior to this one, he viewed the concert as a great opportunity to improve and evaluate his progress. To prepare, he listened to previous recordings by both himself and other performers, and practiced every day. He said, “The experience of playing with an orchestra is enjoyable ,because it feels very vivid. It’s a bigger ensemble, and there’s so much sound and texture.”
Ginsparg’s hard work, as well as the ensemble’s collective efforts, resulted in an event that received ovations from the audience. Yuki Zhang ’22, who attended the performance, said, “The cello playing [was] beautiful alongside the orchestra’s harmony [and] reflected in the emotionally rich sound of the melody.”
Ricky Shi ’22 said, “The concert helped me interpret Tchaikovsky in a new way. It explores many aspects of his music that I hadn’t touched on.”

Very few schools, including universities, have the opportunity to bring together a large group of students and professionals in performance. This is experimential learning at its best.”

— Mr. Fabio Witkowski

Starting this year, the music program will host three concerts with the Philharmonic Orchestra every year. Mr. Witkowski said, “Very few schools, including universities, have the opportunity to bring together a large group of students and professionals in performance. This is experiential learning at its best.”
The next concert in the Elfers Concert Series is the Voice Studio Recital on November 1.