On Friday, February 5th, five incredibly skilled musicians took the Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall stage and performed pieces that have taken many months of preparation. These students, Ruby Bard 19’, Cindy Lan 16’, Hannah Knaul 18’, Spencer Anderson 19’ and Beryl Rosenblum 18’ were all chosen from the concert competition that they competed in back in December. Although they were chosen from the competition to perform last Friday, the winner of the competition, Harry Risoleo 18’ took home the big prize of being able to perform in concert with the full orchestra on March 5th in a concert called, Skidmore Orchestra in Spain, featuring all Spanish music. His piece will be the second one on the program in March.
Risoleo has been practicing since February of last year to work toward all he has achieved now, “My performance with the orchestra on March 5th will be the culmination of about a year’s worth of work.” When asked what it was like winning the concerto competition Risoleo stated,
“Honestly, it was pretty weird that I’d won. I’ve been playing the violin for sixteen years and I still get terrible stage fright, but when I came off the stage I felt pretty good about the performance, and apparently so did they! I’m really excited to play with an orchestra. I’ve never done it before and I’m super grateful for the opportunity!”
Although Risoleo did not perform in the Gala Concert, as he was the winner of the competition, he discussed how it was nice to see his friends show off their hard work in a public setting, “I think the most important thing about concerts like this though is that it is an opportunity to perform solo repertoire, an opportunity far less available than ensemble playing here. It’s a nice change of pace for people who participate in it. And it’s a fun concert to go to!”
The organizer of the entire Student Gala Concerto Concert, Andrew Holland, gave me some background information explaining just how much time each of these students devotes in preparing for their performances. When asked how much planning went into creating this event, Holland replied,
“Well, for me, it wasn’t a big deal. Now, for the students, they probably spend months learning the music. Some of the music is very, very difficult and quite a few of the student performers played from memory. So, in the case of the students, they probably were working on the music for the entire first semester and at a minimum were practicing for three months to be able to play at that level where they could compete for a solo.”
When asked about why it’s important to feature students and have them play on a stage, even if it’s not a packed house or Carnegie Hall, Holland replied,
“It’s tremendously important because musicians spend their whole lives learning music and practicing music in order to perform it for people. So that’s what we live for, really. Even composers want everyone to hear their music and the performers want to play for the audience. They spend a considerable amount of their lives practicing. We need to provide students with as many opportunities to perform because they’re spending a large part of their lives in the practice room, lessons and being coached by professionals. Then, once they have it, they should be able to perform it for everyone because that’s the final goal.”