Orchestra concert showcases state’s young classical musicians

By Cindy Trenholm
Special to the Journal Inquirer
February 28, 2008

MANCHESTER — Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale continues its 48th season with a performance by the Manchester Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. at Manchester Community College, an appropriate venue for its “Young Artist Concert.”

Orchestra Music Director Lewis J. Buckley, who will conduct this concert, says, “I believe this is our third consecutive Young Artist Concert; we certainly consider it an annual event at this point. Mark Tondi will be our first pianist and,he has chosen Rachmaninov’s “Second Piano Concerto,” one of the most popular classical pieces of music in the repertoire.”

Tondi, a native of Easton, is now a freshman at the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music. He was a finalist in the Hartford Symphony’s 2007 Young Artist Competition, and has won numerous other awards, including the Greenwich Symphony Guild’s 2007 Dorothy Gluckmann Award, the Stamford Symphony 2006 Instrumental Scholarship Competition, and the 2006 Stamford Young Artist Philharmonic Concerto Competition.

Tondi is looking forward to performing with the Manchester Symphony.

“There is a tremendous difference between playing a piano concerto with a second pianist and with full orchestra,” Tondi says. “Hearing the colors of the various instruments of the orchestra adds a completely new dimension to the performing experience.”

Celebrating young artists is just one of the many ways Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale encourages musical development at all levels of interest. MSOC welcomes selected students to become full time members of the orchestra. In previous seasons, Manchester High School students have joined MSOC for side-by-side concerts. In 2007, MSOC awarded its first scholarships.

“Last year we started an annual award of two scholarships at MHS, one for a vocal student and one for an instrumental student,” says Linda Cromwell, MSOC president.

MSOC offers every young person an opportunity to enjoy classical music, with free admission to all concerts for everyone 18 years of age or under.

Another work on the program shows that young talent in Connecticut has always been abundant. Charles Ives was born in Danbury and composed “Variations on America ” in 1891 at the age of 17. He was serving as the youngest church organist in Connecticut at the time. The work, as the title implies, is a set of variations on one of Ives’ favorite melodies, the patriotic hymn America, more familiar as “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” Ives wrote this piece for organ and first performed it in 1892. It is said he continued to improvise the variations as he played. The orchestra will perform William Schumann’s arrangement of “Variations” for full orchestra, which became very popular during the U.S. Bicentennial celebrations in 1976.

Also on the program is Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” which was conceived by the composer as a series of mood pictures meant to convey human ideas and emotions. Profound contrasts of rhythm, harmony, and dynamics evoke the mystical influences of the various planets. The two three-part women’s choruses heard at the close of the ethereal Neptune movement will be the voices of the Manchester Chorale.

“I think our audience is going to be thrilled with this concert,” says Buckley. “Ives’ ‘Variations on America’ is most appealing and Holst’s ‘The Planets’ is a massive work requiring a lot of extra musicians in the orchestra. Our audience will see the largest brass, woodwind and percussion sections we have brought to the stage during my tenure with MSOC.”

The Manchester Symphony Orchestra’s annual “Young Artist Concert” will be held in the SBM Charitable Foundation Auditorium in the Arts, Sciences, and Technology Center at Manchester Community College. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students over 18, and free for those under 18.

For more information, call 860-228-2921, e-mail MusicSix [at] cox.net, or visit the MSOC Web site: www.msoc.org