Starting at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30, KO Orchestra Director Richard Chiarappa conducted the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s performance, “Notes from Russia.” Senior Jon Fu and junior Rohan Naik, both on violin, and sophomore Adam Theodorou on cello, as well as freshman Arielena Lang on viola, are all part of the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra and performed with them on Sunday. The two-hour concert took place in Roberts Theater and consisted of two parts.
The first half of the concert featured a senior from Avon High, Elliott Davis, playing a very difficult Tchaikovsky violin concerto. His terrific performance earned him a standing ovation, and Mr. Chiarappa describes it as a very special moment. “Typically the orchestra members will take their bows and they’re tapping their stands or stomping their feet, showing appreciation,” he said.
During the second half of the concert, the orchestra played five other pieces, which were “Lieutenant Kije Suite,” “Procession of the Nobles,” “In the Steppes of Central Asia,” “Procession of the Sardar,” and a Shostakovich piece. A video clip was also shown, which was based on the 1934 film “Lieutenant Kije.” The movie was a comedy about a mistake in the Russian military, which created a nonexistent person named Lieutenant Kije. The humorous part was that since Kije didn’t exist, he became the Russian soldiers’ scapegoat for all their mistakes.
Jon, who is leading the KO orchestra this year, said he enjoys working with Mr. Chiarappa in both orchestras. “It was pretty fun working with him because he’s also the conductor here,” he said. “It’s interesting to see the different teachings styles he uses with a high school, and then also a full orchestra, a more wide variety of people.”
Rohan agreed. “Working with Mr. Chiarappa is good because you get more options,” he said.
Rohan has performed in three concerts with the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra. His favorite part of the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra is working with a lot of different people. “I get to hang out with my friends from different schools and KO, and be onstage together,” he said.
Adam, who has been in the orchestra for two years, has even received the Giamalis Family Music Scholarship for his talented cello playing. “Adam is an advanced cellist,” said Mr. Chiarappa. Overall, Mr. Chiarappa added that the orchestra is a wonderful group of people to work with.
With any large performance comes a lot of preparation, and the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra has been practicing every Wednesday night, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., since Sept. 5. Mr. Chiarappa said the most difficult aspect of part of putting together a performance is deciding the songs, and figuring out how much time to devote to each one. “I have to do the research and I have to balance the difficulty,” he said.
The West Hartford Symphony Orchestra is unique because there is a wide variety of members. Members of the orchestra range from a 14-year-old from West Hartford, to an 85-year-old retired brain surgeon. Not only is there a diverse group of performers, but also a diverse audience. “It varies from young people in elementary school to elderly people,” Rohan said.
As the 17th year Mr. Chiarappa and the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra have been performing, this year they tried something different. While normally each of their performances begins with the orchestra playing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” they decided that this year they would have a group or soloist sing it instead. “Being the first concert that we tried this out,” Mr. Chiarappa said. “I, of course, invited our own Outlook to sing, and they did a wonderful job.”
Coming up soon is the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s holiday concert at the West Hartford Town Hall, this year featuring dancers from the Ballet Theater of West Hartford, and we wish them luck in all their upcoming performances.