Armenian Youth Performs with Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra
By David Salstein
Each fall, the Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra (WPO) hosts auditions as part of its youth concerto competition, in which students up to high school age play a solo they propose to perform with the orchestra at the spring concert. This past season, violinist Haig Hovsepian from Belmont gave an excellent rendition of the Khachaturian concerto solo part to win the competition and play with the WPO.
The Spring Concert, “Asian Dreamscape,” conducted by Maestro Michael Korn, was already designed with a pan-Asian theme, in partial cooperation with the administration of Plympton School, whose curriculum this year features a school-wide study of Asia. The concerto now in the program, written by Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian, fit in well with the rest of the concert theme, as Armenia is located near the border region spanning both Europe and Asia.
Haig Hovsepian’s beautiful violin solo in the concerto, accompanied by the Waltham Philharmonic, was exciting and inspiring, demonstrating both his outstanding technique and musicality. We have no doubt that we will be hearing about great accomplishments in the future from Haig. The emotional feel and poignancy of the concerto was even more meaningful because Haig dedicated the performance as a memorial to the victims of the Armenian Genocide, one century ago.
The program opened with the orchestra playing Borodin’s “On the Steppes of Central Asia,” featuring music inspired from both Russian and central Asian sources. In addition, the orchestra played the “Cantonese Suite” written by modern Chinese composer Xiaogang Ye, in which the musical output of the western instruments were transformed into an eastern palette of sounds, in sections representing four aspects of nature.
Then, master soloist Zhantao Lin captivated the audience with his stunning exotic sounds on the erhu, a traditional two-stringed Chinese instrument, in both the “Charge of the War Horses,” by Chen Yao Xing, accompanied by the WPO, and in another solo piece. Zhantao Lin was a professor of music in his native China, and since emigrating to the United States has performed extensively in New England.
“A Song for Japan” by Steven Verheist, composed as a tribute to those affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in eastern Japan, was performed by wind instruments of the orchestra.
The Plympton School chorus, under the direction of teacher Gina DePaoli, presented a traditional Korean folk song, “Arirang,” which is so well known in Korea, it almost functions as an unofficial national anthem. The students researched the musical pieces in the program, introducing each selection before it was performed. It was rewarding to interact with young talented students in the context of our current Asian-themed concert, and we look forward to working with Plympton students in the future on other projects.
Overall, it was thematically an ambitious concert to plan and execute, featuring orchestral works with two wonderful soloists and the participation of community students. All this would have not been possible if it were not for the extraordinary leadership of Maestro Michael Korn, a truly versatile musician of many talents—director, solo and chamber violinist, community leader, and educator with a vast experience. He took both the orchestra and the concert audience on this musical “dreamscape” with a deep professional wisdom and finesse that magically transformed the dream into reality of a very successful final concert of the season.
The audience greeted the performers with standing ovations, and it was apparent that Waltham Philharmonic not only has a very strong leadership, but an equally strong and faithful following. This is no surprise given its members’ dedication and love for music. It is truly the enthusiasm of the WPO members that makes sustaining the classical values possible throughout the communities, such as Waltham. No wonder Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy showed her continuous support by her presence and cheering of the musicians at the concert.
The Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra looks forward to the next season—our 30th—starting in the fall. For more information, visit www.wphil.org.
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