Heather Beyer

HUDSON: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Practice, practice, practice!

After 3½ months of rehearsals, the Hudson High School Chamber Orchestra will play in New York City’s renowned auditorium Saturday in a bid for the National Orchestra Cup.

The 35-member chamber orchestra is among only eight groups nationwide selected to compete.

“We are honored to have been invited and very excited to represent our families, school, community and state at such a prestigious event,” Hudson High music teacher Roberto Iriarte said. “Many of the household names in classical music have performed there. It will be fun to play where they have made history.”

Under Iriarte’s direction, the chamber orchestra will play: Serenade for Strings by Tchaikovsky, The Adagietto from Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and Hoe Down from Aaron Copland’s ballet Rodeo.

Senior Andrew Vadyak, a bass player for more than nine years, said he feels blessed to have the opportunity to travel with the orchestra to New York City to perform.

“Playing in Carnegie Hall means a great deal to me,” Vadyak said following one of the group’s final tuneups. “When the time comes to perform in NYC, I will definitely be thinking about all of the time that our orchestra has put in to creating the best sound that we can.

“Ultimately, I will just take a deep breath and do my best to give everything I can to the performance.”

Senior Kristen Andrus said she has been playing the viola since age 9, when she was first introduced to it in fourth grade. She instantly became fascinated with the instrument.

“Rehearsals are the best part of my day because I get to let go of everything else that is going on and just play music,” Andrus said.

Kennan Rolsen, also a senior, is the principal cellist in the chamber orchestra. He said rehearsal is a place where he and his fellow musicians come together and express themselves through music.

“Music is the only [way] you can express your emotions without any words. Music can reach into the depths of your soul and can express what words cannot,” Rolsen said.

Rolsen said the music the group is playing is technically difficult and emotionally challenging as well.

“We should be playing more with our soul than just technically,” he said.

The chamber orchestra rehearses four days a week for an hour a day and an hour and a half on Wednesdays.

Rolsen said that when he walks through the doors and onto the stage each day for rehearsal he puts everything else behind him.

“You can’t think about the math test you have next period or a breakup. You have to think of the music,” he said. “Those pieces can be monsters, and you have to focus very hard on what you and what everyone around you is doing.”

Rolsen said he received some advice from his cello instructor for when the big moment arrives at Carnegie Hall: “He told me to stay focused and enjoy the moment because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

UA instructors impressed

Instructors from the University of Akron School of Music offered their critique of the Hudson chamber orchestra at a rehearsal last week.

“It was one of the best high school orchestras I’ve ever heard,” string bass instructor Tracy Rowell said. “All the different sections have really strong players from the front to the back. I was impressed by how they played all of the pieces differently, and each piece had its own character.”

Erica Snowden, cello instructor, said the musicians were playing the music with maturity. She said she was impressed with how attentive they were to their conductor.

“Their eyes were always looking up,” Snowden said. “They looked happy to be there and were very receptive to comments.”

Alan Bodman, professor of violin and viola, said he expects the Hudson students to perform well on the big stage.

“To play music that is this difficult so well is a feather in anyone’s cap,” he said.

Kathleen Spitz, who began playing the violin when she was 3, called working with the guest professors from UA an exciting and helpful experience.

“They made many suggestions and pointed out changes that could be made in our playing. I could immediately hear improvement when our group applied the changes they had suggested,” she said. “It was so great that they were able to come listen to us play.”

When asked what thoughts might be running through his mind as he conducts his orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Iriarte said: “Pride.”

“I will look at the kids on stage during the performance with great pride in our collective accomplishment,” he said. “We have all pushed ourselves and raised the bar throughout this winter for this performance. It will be an awesome day.”

Heather Beyer can be reached at hmbeyer@aol.com.