The high school Chamber Orchestra kicked off the 2013-2014 performing season with a concert on Oct. 29, which featured a variety of pieces and included accompanying guest soloists from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Linda Cherniavsky and Scott Stewart, conductors of the Chamber Orchestra, are both pleased with the orchestra’s preparation for the concert, despite the number of unique musical challenges presented with each piece. The orchestra performed the Adagio and Fugue in C minor by Mozart, Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe in D minor, and John’s Creek Jump, by Tim Aucoin, orchestra director at Northview High School in Atlanta.
“Bach is different from Mozart, and they are both really different from the swing tune, John’s Creek Jump,” said Stewart. “There are different musical challenges in every piece, such as technique, rhythm, and style.”
John’s Creek Jump included multiple solos, which were performed by senior Catherine Zhang, junior Kerrie Greene, and sophomores Charlotte Folinus, Ariana Mao, and Charlotte Warren.
“The orchestra has a lot of potential that I didn’t realize going into the year,” said Cherniavsky. “I am really proud of the work that we’ve done so far this year.”
For the Bach piece, the orchestras accompanied by violinist Chris Pulgram and oboist Elizabeth Koch Tiscione.
Tiscione attended Interlochen Arts Academy for her junior and senior years of high school before studying at the Curtis Institue of Music in Philadelphia. A national audition brought her to Atlanta, where she is the principal oboist in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
“I actually started playing percussion in fourth grade,” said Tiscione. “The oboe player quit the band and they needed an oboe player, so I learned how to play the oboe.”
Pulgram, an alumnus of the Westminster class of 1981, was inducted into the Westminster Performing Arts Hall of Fame in 1990. He graduated from the University of Michigan’s School of Music and has performed around the world. He also played as Concertmaster in the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. Pulgram is currently a first violinist in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and founded and performs in the Peachtree String Quartet.
“I remember playing the Mendelssohn violin concerto, on this stage, in this room, in front of the entire student body when I was about 15,” said Pulgram, in McCain Chapel during the concert. “I was very nervous then!” Typically, the Bach Concerto for Violin and Oboe in D minor is performed with a smaller orchestra than the Chamber Orchestra. Because of this, the Chamber Orchestra was forced to discover and experiment with the art of accompaniment and expressing musicality at softer dynamics.
“Bach was always an acquired taste for me. When I was in high school, I liked the more passionate kind of music,” said Tiscione. “A challenge for you all [the students] is just trying to get into the sound of Bach.” Playing alongside professional musicians was a valuable experience for the Chamber Orchestra.
“[The orchestra] began to model Pulgram’s musical style. Everyone was listening in a more sophisticated way and expanding their understanding of how to accompany,” said Cherniavsky. “And that will serve us well as we go forward for Messiah.”
Yes, almost immediately after the fall concert, the Chamber Orchestra has begun preparing for the school’s annual Messiah concert. The conductors are already very proud of the orchestra’s work so far this year.
“I think it’s important for Westminster to know that orchestra is for everyone to listen to. It’s not just for the musically educated, or the socio-economic elite,” said Stewart. “We welcome everyone and hope that everyone will become regular attenders!”