By GRACE WU, junior
On May 12, friends and family eagerly entered the auditorium, excited to witness the JP Stevens orchestra perform their annual spring concert Just two weeks earlier, the orchestra program competed in the World Heritage competition in Washington D.C., taking home many awards and first place trophies. After countless hours of rehearsing with Mr. Verdi, the conductor, the orchestra students were eager to display the culmination of their diligence.
The night began with the largest ensemble, the Concert Orchestra, performing a soothing lullaby, “A Little Piece of Quiet Music,” leaving the audience in awe of the relaxation power of such calming melodies. The Concert Orchestra continued the concert with a traditional Baroque piece, “The Old-Bachelor Suite,” composed by the famous English composer Henry Purcell in 1693. To accentuate the Baroque textures, sophomore Angela Cao accompanied the ensemble on the harpsichord. The ensemble concluded with a modern piece titled “Idylls of Pegasus,” featuring several soloists: junior violist Anny Lu, sophomore violinists Sanaja Sastry and Ethan Sinyavsky, and freshman cellist Danielle Zhao. Despite their seemingly impeccable and confident performances, some of the soloists expressed some nerves and anxiety before the performance. After finishing her solo, Sanjana Sastry said, “I was so worried about my first solo, but I was incredibly relieved when my backstage practicing paid off and I pulled it off flawlessly.” The audience responded to the Concert Orchestra’s outstanding performance with standing ovations.
The Concert Orchestra was followed by the elite Chamber Orchestra, which consisted of close to thirty members who auditioned to win their spot. This ensemble played without a conductor; rather, they followed cues from the Concert Mistress, junior Grace Wu, displaying incredible comradeship. They began with Edvard Elgar’s “Introduction and Allegro,” featuring a string quartet made up of seniors Nina Carlsen and Ketaki Joshi, juniors Grace Wu and Alice Fance, and sophomore Kelly Chen. The ensemble demonstrated their technical abilities and stellar communication skills through various arpeggios and scales, changing tempo and dynamics fluidly as one cohesive unit. The Chamber Orchestra’s next piece was “Signs of Life II” by Russell Peck, a modern, fast-paced number, combining syncopated melodies with a jazzy bass line, led by senior Evan Wong. After performing his final concert at JP, he reminisced on his four years in orchestra, stating, “I started off as a follower freshman year and never imagined I would be the one leading the chamber orchestra. It has been quite a year, but we’ve developed a sense of camaraderie through thick and thin.” Both performances were awarded with a thunderous applause from the audience.
The night closed with a majestic performance of “Phantom of the Opera” from the Symphonic Orchestra, composed of both orchestra and band members who have rehearsed together for a few short weeks, led by senior soloist Brian Sun. Despite the few rushed rehearsals, the band and orchestra played wonderfully together, blending the brass, percussion, woodwind, and string tones to recreate the popular and enjoyable tunes of this musical. Junior Dennis Nguyen, a tenor saxophone player, commented on this new ensemble, stating, “It’s a rare occasion when band and orchestra kids get to play sophisticated pieces together, so I always cherish those moments.” The piece produced an immediate standing ovation from the enthusiastic audience.
A farewell to the seniors, a showcase of the orchestra’s remarkable talent, and the culmination of the students’ commitment, the Spring Concert was truly a success. As the audience applauded one last time for JP’s orchestra program, many were reluctant to leave, very moved by the orchestra’s performances. Mr. Verdi, the orchestra director, was very proud of the results of his students’ dedication to the program, promising a possibly more enticing concert next spring.
Image Source: https://music.umsl.edu/Performance%20Groups/orchestra.html