Manchester High School musicians to present ‘A Midwinter Escape’

By Karen Greer
For the Journal Inquirer
February 2, 2012

Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale will present “A Midwinter Escape” on Saturday.

MANCHESTER — Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale will present “A Midwinter Escape” on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 7:30 p.m. in Bailey Auditorium at Manchester High School.

This concert of orchestral favorites by the Manchester Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Cheung Chau, is a musical journey, with an itinerary that includes Copland’s “El Salon Mexico” and Tchaikovsky’s “Capriccio Italien.”

For the members of the Manchester High School Chamber Orchestra, this musical journey began weeks ago. The students have been preparing to join the Manchester Symphony Orchestra for Schubert’s Eighth Symphony, his famous “Unfinished Symphony.”

Carol Maas, director of the chamber orchestra and a violinist in the Manchester Symphony Orchestra, has been planning this since November, and the students started working on the piece about a month ago. Maas has devoted the chamber orchestra’s regular rehearsals on Wednesday nights to the work, including rehearsal time with Cheung Chau and some of the orchestra’s section leaders.

“Most of all, the high school kids have been doing lots of individual practice,” says Maas. “These students are very good musicians and like to be challenged, so they are working hard so they can play the music as well as they can.”

Becky Edwards, a senior and a violinist in the chamber orchestra, reflected on how far she’s come since she began learning the symphony. “Before I started, I looked at the piece and I couldn’t even read it. Now I can play through it,” she said. “I just look at things differently because I accomplished it.”

The students have also been rehearsing with the symphony orchestra on Monday nights. Maas said she is pleased with the way the players are heading toward their goal together. “The high school kids are sitting side by side with the adult musicians and learning the Schubert along with them.”

As artists in residence at Manchester High School, Manchester Symphony and Chorale enjoys its role in the musical development of the students. In addition to offering performance opportunities in the side-by-side concerts, MSOC annually awards two scholarships, one to a vocal student and one to an instrumental student.

Admission to MSOC concerts is always free for youths under 18 years of age, which should make it possible for the young performers to have plenty of support from their friends.

To complete an evening celebrating the talent of young musicians, the program will include the overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” composed by Felix Mendelssohn when he was only 17 years old. Inspired by Shakespeare’s comedy of the pleasures and perils of love, it’s an appropriate choice for the month that brings not only the chilly winds of midwinter, but the warm hearts of Valentine’s Day.

Tickets for Midwinter Escape are $18; $15 for seniors and students. Tickets can be purchased at the door.

For more information, call 860-646-0047, e-mail MusicSix [at], or visit the Manchester Symphony Orchestra Chorale Facebook page or the website: