Berkshire soloists exemplify music department excellence

The Berkshire Symphony, pictured in a previous concert, performed with student soloists Friday. Photo courtesy of music.williams.edu.
The Berkshire Symphony, pictured in a previous concert, performed with student soloists Friday. Photo courtesy of music.williams.edu.

Student and local professional musicians of the Berkshire Symphony Orchestra impressed a large audience last Friday at the orchestra’s annual Soloist Gala. The concert featured the performances of three of the College’s most talented student musicians, all of whom performed concerti with the Symphony. This year’s soloists were flautist Tiffany Sun ’18, harpist Anna DeLoi ’18 and pianist Robin Park ’17.

Sun performed the rapid-fire D Minor Concerto for Flute by C. P. E. Bach with flawless technique and an elegance that is necessary for music of the baroque period. DeLoi moved the audience with the exquisite Danses Secrée et Profane by Claude Debussy. Park brought audience members to their feet with her spectacular performance of Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 3 for Piano.

In addition to the three concerti, the Symphony performed the entirety of the First Symphony by Jean Sibelius. This was the perfect way to end the 2014-2015 season of the Berkshire Symphony.

The Symphony produces four concerts per year and is composed of half College musicians and half area professionals. The director of the orchestra is Ronald Feldman, the College’s artist in residence in orchestral and instrumental activities and a lecturer in music.

When asked about the best and hardest part of being a soloist for the Berkshire Symphony, Park responded to both with “Playing with other people!”  As for the difficulty of playing with such a large group, Park reminded us, “If I mess up, then some 50 other people would have to do a part over because of me!” Despite this extra pressure, “I think people who make music together share something special,” Park said. “Everyone becomes part of this one big organism, moving to the same beats.”

“It was so much fun to be able to play with such an amazing group of musicians,” Park said.

Harpist Anna DeLoi conceded that preparing for the Soloist Gala was quite a bit of pressure. “I had a few exams the week before the concert, and I had to make a really concentrated effort to put in extra practice time for the performance,” she said. “It was hard to schedule in plenty of sleep. But I know from experience that if I don’t take care of myself and get enough rest, my playing will suffer.”

DeLoi’s hard work paid off in an incredibly moving performance on Friday. Indeed, one of my friends told me that she was moved to tears during DeLoi’s powerful performance.

DeLoi also commented on the  time she spent with the other soloists, saying, “It was also really fun to share the night with Tiffany and Robin – hanging out backstage together, joking about performance jitters and generally cheering each other on.”

The College music department is an incredibly strong presence on campus and a tight-knit community. Park commented, “It’s a really intimate community, which I like  I tend to pass by the same people when I pass through the music building, at a given day and time.” It’s this small, close setting that attracts many to the offerings of the department.

The music department is about getting to know people and getting to know them well. DeLoi said, “I love knowing that there will always be friends in the music lab or the lounge if I’m struggling with music theory homework, or need someone to talk to after too long in the practice room!” I’ve found that it’s easy to find a place of comfort and meaning in the department, but that it’s a force to be reckoned with. From weekly mid-week concerts to the exceptional offerings of the Berkshire Symphony Orchestra, music at the College consistently exceeds expectations  The three students that performed in Friday’s Soloist Gala reflect this excellence.