Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra presents Mahler’s First

Photo by Dana Pan '20 

Photo by Dana Pan '20 


On Feb. 25, the Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra and Springfield Youth Orchestra performed in Abbey Chapel, ending with a joint rendition of Mahler’s First.

The Springfield Youth Orchestra was first to take the stage. Conducted by their music director Jonathan Lam, the orchestra performed Mikhail Glinka’s Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla. According to the Springfield Symphony website, the SYO is the more advanced of the Springfield Symphony Youth Orchestra’s two ensembles and aims to offer educational and performance opportunities to young musicians.

SYO’s performance was followed by the Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Ernest Chausson’s Poeme violin concerto which featured a solo from Amy Chen ’17. The orchestra was conducted by Ng Tian Hui, the music director of both the University of Massachusetts Amherst Symphony Orchestra and the Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra. Hui is also an assistant professor in Mount Holyoke’s music department.

Photo by Dana Pan '20

Photo by Dana Pan '20

“I’ve never performed a piece on this scale before, and it has always been a dream to play such an emotional piece like Poeme in a large chapel with a symphony. My goal for this performance was to find a way to have fun on stage but also be technically aware and precise,” said Chen. Chen, who joined the orchestra as a first year, has served as concertmaster since her sophomore year. She has won two awards in the Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra concerto competition, first in 2014 for performing Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major and again in 2016 for performing Chaussem’s Poeme at the collaboration concert. Chen is a studio art major, captain of the varsity tennis team and the orchestra board’s historian.

The finale piece, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 Titan, was performed by both orchestras. The groups only rehearsed twice as a complete orchestra, according to Relyn Myrthil ’19, the MHSO’s publicist and principal violist. “The devotion both directors put into this collaboration was inspiring from both sides and to see friendships flourishing between new desk partners was a beautiful thing,” Myrthil said. “This collaboration was meaningful for both parties and definitely something I would like to see happen again in the future.”

According to Mount Holyoke’s website, the symphony orchestra is one of the largest musical groups on campus. The orchestra is comprised of not only Mount Holyoke students, but also faculty members, community members and students from the other Five Colleges.

The concert was attended by members of the Mount Holyoke community as well as the members of the public. “I thought the Springfield Orchestra was very impressive for high schoolers, and the Mount Holyoke orchestra finished strong,” said Grace Fitzgerald ’20.

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