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Live from Lincoln Center

Written by Chris Jones '08
7/29/2008

Chris Jones '08, Brian Hwang '08, and Elizabeth Teucke '10 on stage at Lincoln Center

Ever since my first violin lesson in the seventh grade with Philadelphia Orchestra violinist Jonathan Beiler, I have dreamed of playing in a professional orchestra and performing in some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls. After four years at Ithaca College, I have had a chance to live this dream -- not once, but twice -- as I joined my fellow IC musicians onstage at New York City’s famed Lincoln Center, home of the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera.

My first performance in Lincoln Center took place during my freshman year and featured Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. My memory of the concert is still fresh. Not only did I play on a stage that has been graced by some of the world’s greatest musicians, but being positioned closest to the piano on stage, I was called on to give the tuning note from the piano. To this day, I still boast of my “piano solo” in Avery Fisher Hall.

The latest performance took place this past April and involved over 350 students from the symphony orchestra and choral union. The concert featured two masterpieces, Johannes Brahms’s Tragic Overture and Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem. Although the majority of the participants were music majors, the ensembles also included music minors and non-music majors. We were joined by four solo vocalists: Ithaca College professors Randy Blooding (baritone) and David Parks (tenor), mezzo-soprano Leah Summers, and world-renowned Verdi soprano and IC alumna Sharon Sweet ’78.

Watch the chorus rehearse an a cappella section in the "Dies Irae" on stage at the Lincoln Center.

 

We could have spent months preparing for this challenging program, but we had only four weeks and two combined rehearsals to perfect our performance. Under these near-professional time constraints, the rehearsal process was truly an exercise in commitment and time management. Professor Jeffery Meyer led the initial orchestra rehearsals on both pieces, challenging us to approach the music with the utmost respect, maturity, and seriousness. As the concert approached, Professor Lawrence Doebler began directing rehearsals to familiarize the orchestra with his conducting style and to help us understand the spiritual aspects of the Verdi Requiem. He gave us each a copy of his own analysis of the work, complete with a full text translation, which deepened our interpretation of the piece.

Each ensemble rehearsed separately until the week before our preview performance on campus, just a few days before the concert in New York City. I was amazed at how quickly the piece came together with just two combined rehearsals—much more quickly than with Carmina Burana. Undoubtedly, the intense work of every individual performer eased the challenge of unifying our sound.
We arrived in Manhattan shortly before our 2:00 p.m. dress rehearsal. Entering the hall, I was immediately impressed by the grandness of the space. It was even larger than I had remembered.

After a quick dinner, it was showtime. As concertmaster of the orchestra, I had the honor of walking onstage alone after the house lights went down to tune the orchestra. Being received by a full audience in this historic hall is a moment I will cherish forever! Professor Meyer was at his best conducting the Tragic Overture from memory. Having experienced this conducting feat twice, I can honestly say that nothing does more to inspire me as a musician.

Professor Jeffery Meyer conducted the "Tragic" Overture from memory.

 IC Symphony Orchestra conductor Jeffery Meyer

Our performance of the Brahms piece was cohesive, spirited, and moving. The requiem was equally expressive. From my seat next to the soloists, it was astounding to hear the power with which they projected over the orchestra and choir. Professor Doebler led the orchestra with poise and reverence. I know many of the performers were deeply touched by the music’s timeless message. The audience felt it too. We received a long standing ovation, and I could hear multiple shouts of “Bravo!” over the thunderous applause.

Having my family in attendance was particularly special for me because they rarely have the chance to hear my brother Aaron (a business major and member of the choral union) and me perform together. After the concert, I was greeted by an enthusiastic fan club that even included my third-grade teacher. As I surveyed the scene around me, I realized that my situation was not unique; the lobby was bustling with families, friends, alumni, and supporters. Sharing this music with our loved ones made performing even more rewarding.

Since I am a senior, this performance was my last at Lincoln Center with Ithaca College. I am grateful to have had these opportunities, and I look forward to attending more of them as an alumnus. Although our time in New York City was brief, my memories from this experience will last a lifetime.



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