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Tuesday, June 28, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesSYMPHONY CONCERT IS A RARE ISLAND OPPORTUNITY

SYMPHONY CONCERT IS A RARE ISLAND OPPORTUNITY

It doesn't usually take an airborne flotilla to get an orchestra from its home base to its performance venue. But the Reichhold Center for the Arts doesn't often host the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra — which it is doing for its season-opener concert on Saturday night. In fact, it has done so only twice before, back in 1979 and 1981.
On Friday morning and afternoon, 75 members of the orchestra and 10 support staff will fly to St. Thomas aboard anywhere from four to seven commuter planes. The musicians' instruments, including a harp and kettle drums, will come over separately in the afternoon on a larger jet.
The concert, a Birch Forum production, represents the first-ever opportunity for a generation of young people to hear the symphony orchestra, known to Puerto Ricans as La Sinfonica, perform on island. (Only one other full orchestra has ever played at the Reichhold, for that matter — the Arturo Somohano Pops Orchestra, also from Puerto Rico, also in the '80s.)
It was in part with a young audience in mind that the music was chosen for Saturday's program, orchestra general manager Aida Gisela Acensio says. The Overture (or "Prelude") to Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg is a joyful showcase for strings and brass; Beethoven's bombastic Fifth Symphony, at least the opening bars, is familiar to almost everyone; and Stravinsky's The Firebird Suite is one of the best-known works of the "contemporary" classical repertoire. The fourth work on the program, a saxophone concerto by early 20th Century Russian composer Alexandr Glazunov, will feature as soloist a teen-age student at Puerto Rico's Conservatory of Music, Edgar Marreiro, whose father plays viola in the orchestra.
Ricardo Charaf, a former Puerto Rico resident and Birch Forum member, and his wife, Josephine, are in charge of the logistics, which for the next few days will be an all-consuming job. Musicians must be met at the airport and taken to their hotel; the instruments must be picked up and taken to the Reichhold where orchestra members will assemble them as needed and make sure everything is in working order. The visitors will be guests of honor at a private reception Friday night. Everyone must be transported to the Reichhold for rehearsal at 2 p.m. Saturday, all must be in order for the concert at 8, then the musicians must be taken back to their hotel, and next day, everyone and everything must be gotten back to the airport for the return to Puerto Rico.
"It's a very big undertaking," Charaf, a native of Argentina, says, but it's worth the effort from the St. Thomas perspective. He has heard La Sinfonica perform many times in Puerto Rico as well as many other orchestras there and elsewhere in the world, and this one, he says, is "not to be missed."
Concert time is 8 p.m. Seating is reserved. Tickets are $50 for the covered section, $25 for the lower open-air seating, and $5 for the upper open-air seats. They may be purchased on St. Thomas as the Draughting Shaft in Sub Base, the Modern Music in Havensight, Parrot Fish Music, Crystal & Gifts Galore, the University of the Virgin Islands Humanities office, and the Reichhold box office. On St. John, they're available at Connections. Charge card purchased may be made by calling 693-1559.
Music students — any students, for that matter — are welcome to sit in on the 2 p.m. rehearsal. "They just need to be well behaved," Birch Forum member Leona Bryant said. Bryant spent Thursday morning taking free tickets to students at a number of schools. Even though a $5 seat costs no more than a fast-food meal, she said, "they prefer the fast food. We don't want them to have any excuses."

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It doesn't usually take an airborne flotilla to get an orchestra from its home base to its performance venue. But the Reichhold Center for the Arts doesn't often host the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra -- which it is doing for its season-opener concert on Saturday night. In fact, it has done so only twice before, back in 1979 and 1981.
On Friday morning and afternoon, 75 members of the orchestra and 10 support staff will fly to St. Thomas aboard anywhere from four to seven commuter planes. The musicians' instruments, including a harp and kettle drums, will come over separately in the afternoon on a larger jet.
The concert, a Birch Forum production, represents the first-ever opportunity for a generation of young people to hear the symphony orchestra, known to Puerto Ricans as La Sinfonica, perform on island. (Only one other full orchestra has ever played at the Reichhold, for that matter -- the Arturo Somohano Pops Orchestra, also from Puerto Rico, also in the '80s.)
It was in part with a young audience in mind that the music was chosen for Saturday's program, orchestra general manager Aida Gisela Acensio says. The Overture (or "Prelude") to Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg is a joyful showcase for strings and brass; Beethoven's bombastic Fifth Symphony, at least the opening bars, is familiar to almost everyone; and Stravinsky's The Firebird Suite is one of the best-known works of the "contemporary" classical repertoire. The fourth work on the program, a saxophone concerto by early 20th Century Russian composer Alexandr Glazunov, will feature as soloist a teen-age student at Puerto Rico's Conservatory of Music, Edgar Marreiro, whose father plays viola in the orchestra.
Ricardo Charaf, a former Puerto Rico resident and Birch Forum member, and his wife, Josephine, are in charge of the logistics, which for the next few days will be an all-consuming job. Musicians must be met at the airport and taken to their hotel; the instruments must be picked up and taken to the Reichhold where orchestra members will assemble them as needed and make sure everything is in working order. The visitors will be guests of honor at a private reception Friday night. Everyone must be transported to the Reichhold for rehearsal at 2 p.m. Saturday, all must be in order for the concert at 8, then the musicians must be taken back to their hotel, and next day, everyone and everything must be gotten back to the airport for the return to Puerto Rico.
"It's a very big undertaking," Charaf, a native of Argentina, says, but it's worth the effort from the St. Thomas perspective. He has heard La Sinfonica perform many times in Puerto Rico as well as many other orchestras there and elsewhere in the world, and this one, he says, is "not to be missed."
Concert time is 8 p.m. Seating is reserved. Tickets are $50 for the covered section, $25 for the lower open-air seating, and $5 for the upper open-air seats. They may be purchased on St. Thomas as the Draughting Shaft in Sub Base, the Modern Music in Havensight, Parrot Fish Music, Crystal & Gifts Galore, the University of the Virgin Islands Humanities office, and the Reichhold box office. On St. John, they're available at Connections. Charge card purchased may be made by calling 693-1559.
Music students -- any students, for that matter -- are welcome to sit in on the 2 p.m. rehearsal. "They just need to be well behaved," Birch Forum member Leona Bryant said. Bryant spent Thursday morning taking free tickets to students at a number of schools. Even though a $5 seat costs no more than a fast-food meal, she said, "they prefer the fast food. We don't want them to have any excuses."