Last Sunday’s performance, “Out Of This World” featured among other highlights, the appearance of 71 young violin students on stage with members of the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra, performing songs from the Suzuki repertoire and concluding with the well-known “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star Variations”. It is always a pleasure to see young people on the stage with us – in this case as young as elementary school-age!
One of the most rewarding aspects of our mission is that we can offer talented young musicians a chance to perform with a professional symphony. Some of them are local performers we identify through our Louise DeFeo Parillo Piano Competition and the League’s Stefan Scholarship Competition, like Ryan Reilly (piano) and Anthony Bellino (trumpet) who appeared as soloists last season. In many cases, this is the first time for a student performer to appear as a soloist with a professional orchestra.
We also offer open auditions for our sub list, and routinely have area high school and college students performing with us when our regular members are unavailable. In some cases, it may be their very first opportunity to do that. It’s a different experience from performing in a youth orchestra or in a school setting, as valuable as that is. For one thing, our rehearsal pattern is very different – a concentrated week of rehearsals culminating in a performance compared to the traditional weekly rehearsals of a student ensemble is a distinctly different type of preparation. The relationships between student musicians and adults allows for mentoring and fostering friendships.
Another of our favorite ways to involve young performers is through a shared-stands concert. where students and adults seated side-by-side perform together. Although we haven’t programmed one in a while due to funding concerns, they are extremely rewarding for our musicians and the students involved. Our last one was at Proctors Theater with the members of the Niskayuna Symphony Orchestra in March 2007; prior to that we worked with members of Shenendehowa and Schenectady high school orchestras. We’d love to resurrect that program – contact us if you have any ideas for funding!
We really enjoy providing these opportunities to the young musicians in our community, and appreciate the support of our subscribers, donors and musicians to make it possible. And it’s always a thrill to look onstage and see the future of classical music reflected in the faces of the five year olds.