What a year 2022 has been! We began the year in January by continuing our search for a new music director and auditioned 4 more finalists. Each of our finalists worked with the orchestra for several weeks and then we performed a concert (except one concert, canceled by COVID).
The 2021-22 season ended with a beautiful and poignant performance led by our former music director of 28 years, Max Hobart, featuring our very own concertmaster Emil Altschuler playing the Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto No. 3. Despite COVID, we had such a wonderful commitment from the entire orchestra and great audiences!
After our new music director, Mark Latham, accepted our offer, the work began on our 2022-23 season - we are at the halfway point now. Our first concert on October 2 featured Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique - a crazy, romantic romp through an artist';s opium-induced dreamworld. We also performed Lera Auerbach's incredible Icarus, a music re-telling of the well-known Greek myth.
In November, our theme was "In Memoriam" and was a tribute to my parents, Madeleine and Karl Weiss. The music embodied remembering the past
and was incredibly moving. We just performed our annual holiday concert, with lots of fresh and fun takes on some old favorites. "A Mad Russian's Christmas" brought the nearly sold-out house down, as 2 young men (Devin Cox and Zach Fellinger) wailed away on their electric guitars! Rebecca Hains, a fabulous soprano, sang 4 songs and narrated the famous Christmas poem, " ’Twas the Night Before Christmas". My 4-and-a-half-year-old grandson was thoroughly enchanted by Rebecca and the story, and wanted her to repeat it all right away!! A rousing and well-sung sing-along ended the program.
On November 13, after missing 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, the annual Michael H. Welles WSO Young Soloist Competition returned, with some wonderful young musicians playing some glorious music. Our panel of judges auditioned 24 incredibly gifted students, ranging in age from 9 to 17. The students all played their selections magnificently, which made it quite difficult to select a winner. However, one student did stand out - Brian Lee, a 17-year-old student from Belmont, wowed us with his performance of the first movement of Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1. He will perform at our family concert on March 26, 2023 - you do not want to miss this! His impressive bio and photo have been posted on the Young Soloist tab on this site.
The WSO Young Soloist Competition has been an annual event for several decades, originally managed by Bill Burdine, our personnel manager and fantastic bassoonist for many years. In 2002 Dianne Mahany, at the time principal clarinet and Board member took over the competition and set up the managing tools extremely well. So well that when I took over in 2019, I was able to follow in Dianne's footsteps without too many errors! We are grateful to the Dana Hall School of Music for graciously allowing us to use their building for this day-long event.
The best part of this competition is the privilege to hear so many young people who are so passionate about classical music. In our current era, classical music organizations, both professional and amateur, are struggling to maintain relevance. As an example, this Sunday's NYTimes arts section did not contain a single article on classical music. As a life-long lover of classical music, I find this incredible.
As we look forward to 2023, we have 3 more exciting concerts lined up for your enjoyment. It is our hope that our performances continue to enhance your lives. Music is the universal language and can uplift, soothe and amuse us. Music is for celebrations, for remembrance, and for enabling us to escape the troubles around us.
My best wishes to you all for a happy, healthy and peaceful holiday and New Year!