Youthful Performance of Classics

On Sunday, April 26, at 7 p.m., Julian J. Studley Theatre hosted a concert filled with talent of all ages from the Hudson Valley known as the College Youth Symphony.

The College Youth Symphony is a spring concert that was conducted by both Professor Carole Cowan and wind ensemble conductor, Victor Izzo. According to the concert’s program, the College Youth Symphony gave three long-time members of the orchestra and two piano students from the music department at SUNY New Paltz a chance to showcase their talents. The concert featured an array of styles and historical periods such as the baroque, classical, (Mozart and Beethoven) Romantic and 20th century.

“This concert had more soloists than usual,” Cowan said.

The concert featured three large ensembles and five pieces for soloist and orchestra. The soloists were three winners from the College Youth Symphony Competition in the fall and piano students from the music department.

The first prize co-winner of this year’s College Youth Symphony Competition was the first soloist to take the stage. According to the program, Miriam Rose Silver-Altman is a seventh grade student at the Woodstock Day School who has played the violin since the age of three.

The show opened with a wind ensemble piece and then Altman followed and took front and center.  The orchestra began to play Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , and Altman joined in with every note memorized.

Alex Garcia, second-year mechanical engineering major at SUNY New Paltz was taken aback by Altman’s performance.

“For her age she was very good. I did not expect that,” Garcia said.

The other two winners of this year’s competition to perform a solo were Olivia McCarthy, an oboist and senior at Newburgh Free Academy as well as Jonina Kellerhouse from Rosendale who began playing the cello at nine years old.

The two SUNY New Paltz students to perform a solo were piano players Danielle Strassman, a fourth-year at New Paltz and Theresa Orr, a second-year studying pre-music therapy and piano performance and human services.

At the conclusion of each soloist performance, each musician was handed a bouquet of flowers and took a bow in front of the audience.

Matt Fusaro, a first-year student studying chemistry at Dutchess Community College said the background where all the soloists come from is really interesting. “Their skill was impeccable,” Fusaro added.

Cowan said The College Youth Symphony has junior high (especially talented ones), high school, college, faculty and community members.  Performers ranged from ages 12 to roughly 65.

Cowan determined the concert’s pieces by choosing pieces she liked, some that she remembers playing when she was younger and pieces she thought everyone would enjoy learning and playing.

“The pieces are hard for the orchestra, because in addition to knowing your own part, you have to listen carefully and follow what the soloist is doing,” Cowan said.

Cowan hoped audience members loved the variety of pieces, styles and composers and will look to listen to them again. She hopes the orchestra and soloists’ enthusiasm translated well to the audience.

“It was a difficult concert and we lost some rehearsals from snow days, so it was a testament to everyone’s hard work that it sounded so good,” Cowan concluded.