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Reporting From Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall

To most young musicians, playing a performance at Carnegie Hall is a dream. On February 19th, that dream came true for violinist Dee Luo, a student of Katherine Brooks at the String Academy. As part of the American High School Honors Performance Series, she and 400 other students played in the elite performance hall to an audience of over 2000.

Luo sent in an audition tape back in October, not really knowing what to expect. “I received an invitation to audition by email, and I had never heard of the group before. I wasn’t expecting to make it in, but it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass by” she explained. Later that month, she received a letter confirming her spot in the group. There were around 100 members in the orchestra, 200 in the choir, and 100 in the band.

The orchestra was under the direction of conductor Charles Peltz, from the New England Conservatory of Music. The selections for the concert were George Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture”, Sergei Prokofiev’s “Symphony No. 5 Finale”, Charles Ives’s “Fugue for Small Orchestra”, and the classic “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann Bach. “The pieces were really challenging individually and to put together as a group,” Luo commented. “I’ve never played with an orchestra at that level before, and it made me feel really accomplished.” The orchestra also had the chance to work with world renown horn player Gunther Schuller, who has won Grammy awards for his work with classical music. After around 18 hours of combined rehearsal over three days, the group arrived at Carnegie Hall to play a sold-out show. Before the show, conductor Peltz had one last comment for the students. “Silence is an open white canvas,” he said. “We are the ones that fill that canvas with beautiful art.”

Besides the many hours of rehearsal, the trip consisted of many sightseeing and touring opportunities. This included a Broadway show, Times Square, Rockefeller Plaza, the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, Grand Central Station, and a private party at the Empire State Building. The group was also featured on NBC’s today show, which filmed live several blocks away from the hotel.

When asked about the experience, Luo replied, “It’s definitely one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Over the course of four days, I was able to explore New York City, meet some of the most musically talented kids in the world, play a concert at the best performance hall in the country, and make some really great friends. I’m so honored and grateful to be part of this experience and to have met all these wonderful people. The conductor was truly inspiring. I loved the city, the atmosphere, everything. Sitting on that stage with all those people is all I could have ever asked for.”

Dee Luo, (second from right), with fellow Honors Performance Series musicians.

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