Posted by Elizabeth Devereux
Last Monday evening, I had the great opportunity to go see the Curtis Symphony Orchestra perform at the Kimmel Center, with soloist and Curtis grad Hilary Hahn on violin. The concert was great; I love seeing the energy and exuberant expertise of the Curtis students, and Hilary Hahn always plays with stunning accuracy and great thoughtfulness. Hahn performed Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto (which won Higdon, a Philly resident, the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Music!)–I love the whimsical sounds that Higdon includes in the first movement, and the last movement is a flying fury of notes, which Hilary performed with virtuosic velocity.
The Curtis Symphony, conducted by Juanjo Mena, performed their own virtuosic pieces before and after the Higdon, beginning the concert with Hindemith’s Konzertmuzik for Strings and Brass and ending with the grand and irresistibly captivating roller-coaster of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony. (In my experience of playing music for groups of young kids, Shostakovich’s 5th, like Beethoven’s 5th, grips children immediately and MOVES them, literally. Try playing the last movement for them and see if they can sit still through the raucous sounds!)
There were very few empty seats in Verizon Hall, and the crowd was young, old, in between–a wonderful mix of ages that we rarely see in symphony orchestra audiences. Maybe the concert was a good Valentine’s date for the 20- and 30-somethings, or maybe the youth of the Curtis Symphony brought out the younger audience. Whatever it was, having many generations to look around at in the seats of the symphony hall fills me with energy and excitement. Other concert-goers feel it, too, and I’m sure the performers feel it on stage–the excitement is contagious!
I was even party to a happy multi-generational group at Monday night’s concert: I’d been invited there by my first violin teacher and her husband. I got to watch the concert and share reactions afterwards with the woman who knew me when I was 5 years old and trying to play Twinkle with a straight bow! I feel so lucky to have reconnected with my first teacher, and I hope to be able to remain in contact with students of mine as they grow up and choose professions of their own, whether those professions are in music or not. So, please, music teachers, take your students to concerts whenever possible!