The University of Connecticut Symphony Orchestra raised the bar on Thursday night in the von der Mehden Recital Hall.
The approximately 75-person orchestra performed the works of Antonin Dvorak, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and Georges Bizet with featured violinist Solomiya Ivakhiv and violist Hsin-Yun Huang.
Dr. Ivakhiv has performed at venues as prestigious as Carnegie Hall and the Tchaikovsky Hall in Kiev. Prior to becoming an assistant professor of violin and viola and head of strings at UConn, Ivakhiv taught master classes at Yale, Columbia and the University of Maryland.
Similarly, Huang received degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School, where she continues to teach music.
Despite the illustrious reputation of both women's education and professional experience, the UConn students had no trouble keeping up. Jordan Maragnano, a fifth-semester music education major, sang their praises. “I’ve seen professional groups perform and I get the same feelings from this as I do from those ones,” Maragnano said.
Maragnano suggests that part of the reason for the ensemble’s success originates from the “professional” attitudes of its members.
“They’re held to a higher standard here at UConn,” said Jacqueline Kevorkian, a seventh-semester music education major. “Their conductor Harvey Felder expects a lot from them and they deliver and they work hard constantly.”
Much like UConn’s many athletes, the members of the Symphony Orchestra are often intercepted in one of three situations: on their way to practice, on their way back from practice or at practice.
Maragnano also complimented their stellar technical abilities. “Because of the different kind of instruments they have and the ranges of all of them, they have this ability to be so incredibly impressive and they always are,” Maragnano said.
Kevorkian offered even higher praises. “I feel as though this orchestra would be able to deliver the same as those two women did as if they were placed into an orchestra setting,” Kevorkian said, speaking to the sheer impressiveness that the students displayed.
These praises become all the more powerful when you consider that a lot of the performers were still in high school only a few months ago and now have the talent to share the stage with world renowned performers without falling short. “[They] just came from high school and it’s crazy how good they are,” Maragnano said.
“Compared to last year, they really stepped it up,” Kevorkian said. Judging by both students’ reactions, the UConn Symphony Orchestra will continue to raise the high bar they’ve set for themselves throughout the rest of the fall semester.
Alexis Taylor is a contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.