As March drew to a close, the Massapequa Philharmonic Orchestra took to the stage for their springtime celebration performance. The concert took place in three parts: a rendition of “The Heavens are Telling” from Haydn’s “The Creation” sung by the Massapequa High School A Capella Choir, Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 22, featuring the Juilliard prodigy Lia Chen on violin, and the orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 in F Major, “Pastorale”.
Audiences were transported on a truly unique classical journey of transformation and renewal. The choir, comprised of a large student body, offered a powerful yet delicate rendition of Haydn, whose lyrics and tune tell the story of Genesis. The three soloists – Delana Martinez (Soprano), Jayden Pearl (Tenor), and Colin Bresnihan (Bass) – skillfully intertwined a melody which embodies the tenderness and wonder of one embracing the firmament. Lia Chen is truly a phenom on the violin, and her execution of Wieniawski’s concerto was a wonderful and joyful experience. She is clearly at one with the music, which moved through her on stage as she commanded full attention from the audience. The orchestra brought to life a less well-known Symphony of Beethoven’s which, fittingly, embraced his love of the countryside. The merriment of the opening movements is cracked by a sudden thunderstorm, with the final movement pulling the orchestra and the audience back into the soft light of Spring.
Music Director David Bernard joined the Massapequa Philharmonic seven years ago, drawn to the ways in which it differed from other orchestras. “There are a few orchestras on Long Island, and usually they have very limited scope and scale. Limited performances… and quite frankly, limited connection to their communities. The difference – with the Massapequa Philharmonic – is we have always been a fixture of this community. We have a built-in audience that spans over 30 years, who sees this as their orchestra.” But Bernard also saw an opportunity for improvement, to grow connections with the community. In particular, schools and businesses.
Bernard was excited for this concert to showcase these connections. Not only did the orchestra and school choir perform but artwork was featured in the lobby, created by Massapequa Schools third-graders who interpreted Beethoven’s symphony as a visual to accompany the audial. A reception was also held afterwards, in collaboration with the Massapequa Chamber of Commerce. “We’re bringing in the businesses, they’re mingling with the community,” Bernard explained. “The idea here is that a cultural institution is not just music. A cultural institution, when it’s doing what it can do, is bringing everybody together. And it’s not just the music and the art, it is the businesses and the community.” Truly, the Massapequa Philharmonic concerts have become a nexus of opportunity, and a way for the community to connect.
If you missed this springtime celebration and want a chance to experience the orchestra for yourself, you’re in luck. The Massapequa Philharmonic has two upcoming shows; on Sunday, May 7 and Sunday, June 4. The former, titled “Elegance and Brilliance”, showcases Beethoven’s Overture to Lenore No. 3, Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 1 – featuring soloist Jon Manasse – as well as Schumann’s Symphony No. 4. The June performance, titled “Images and Imagination”, includes Greig Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Debussy Nocturnes (Nuages and Fetes), and Mussorgsky / Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition. Tickets are required for entry, with a suggested donation of $20. For more information on David Bernard, Lia Chen, and the orchestra, go to nassauobserver.com and search “Massapequa Philharmonic” to read their original press release.