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The Center of it All

Written by Joohhyun Lee '15

Joohyun Lee '15

My mother always tells the story of when I first heard the violin. I was three when I saw a PBS broadcast of Sarah Chang performing in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. My eyes were glued to the television the entire time. I was completely captivated.

Sixteen years later, I am a violin performance major studying at the Ithaca College School of Music, and on April 19, I got a chance to perform with the Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra and Choir in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. It felt like a dream come true.


I had traveled to New York City plenty of times, but the morning spent on the bus with the orchestra and choir members driving into Manhattan felt different. As I caught a glimpse of Manhattan from the expressway, it finally sunk in: I would be performing with Ithaca College’s orchestra at Lincoln Center. The performance was finally going to happen. The concert celebrated the anniversaries of the great 20th century composers Benjamin Britten, Francis Poulenc, and Witold Lutosławski, and also featured works by György Ligeti and William Byrd. I felt that performing in such a prestigious venue as Alice Tully Hall placed us at the heart of a worldwide celebration of these important musical anniversaries.

Two of the works, Atmosphères by Ligeti and Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra, are among the most challenging works in the concert repertoire. It took an incredible amount of concentration and time in the practice room and at rehearsal to get them right, but we knew that hearing the music come together in that space would make all that work worth it.

Before the concert, I spent some time at Lincoln Center’s iconic fountains reflecting on the space around me and what the night was all about. I always hear about music being a communal experience, but that night I truly felt a community come together. The music making did not happen with just the performers onstage.

We became a part of something much bigger—a worldwide celebration of music.

A mecca for the arts, New York City has never ceased to inspire me, but the orchestra’s performance that night will always stand out in my memories. I felt like a part of the “real” world. As someone who aspires to become a professional performing musician, I feel extremely fortunate to have had this experience as an undergraduate student, and I have never been more excited for what my future in music holds.



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