Announcing The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony and Concerto Artists 2023 competition winners in concert at the Kaufman Music Center at the Kaufman Music Center at Merkin Hall.
This auspicious event was the fruit of an esteemed collaboration between the Kaufman Music Center and the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony. Gifted young artists competed for the opportunity to grace the stage and perform major musical works with a symphony orchestra before a packed house in a remarkable concert space.
Maestro David Bernard joined the Orchestra on stage to introduce the program. The excitement was palpable as the enthusiastic audience listened and waited for the music to begin.
The Orchestra warmed up with instrumental selections from Georges Bizet’s Carmen, leading to a breathtaking performance of two arias by mezzo-soprano Lucie Freeman, Grade 12. Freeman enchanted the audience with her interpretations of Seguidilla – Prés des Remparts de Seville and Habanera –L’amour est un oiseau rebelle, in which she expressed confidence with vocal dexterity. She captured the spirit of Bizet’s work and demonstrated a rich timbre, eloquence, and poignancy that enraptured listeners.
Guitarist Romero Biagni-Rosenbaum joined the Orchestra for a performance of the Allegro con spirito from Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. Biagni-Rosenbaum demonstrated impeccable finger dexterity and control during fast-scale runs and arpeggios. His command of barre technique ensured the expression of harmonic opulence and the work’s pathos. Biagni-Rosenbaum’s tremolos added a shimmering, cascading effect of vitality and passion. He adapted to the conductor’s cues and blended seamlessly with orchestral textures for a balanced, cohesive performance.
The concert continued with Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, performed by cellist Griffin Frost. Frost demonstrated the virtuosic artistic mastery needed to glide through rapid-scale passages, arpeggios, double stops, and challenging fingerings. Frost expressed the subtleties and nuances of the work through his phrasing, dynamics, and rubato. Utilizing an unswervingly lush timbre, Frost ably conveyed the contrasting moods and themes of the variations from lively and virtuosic to contemplative and poetic.
Violinist Bianna Bell ascended the stage for the Moderato from the Violin Concerto No. 2. In C sharp Minor, Op. 29, by Dmitri Shostakovich. Bell conveyed the work’s somber and brooding atmosphere with verve, robust warmth, and resonance while capturing its profound introspection. With agility, accuracy, and clarity, Bell navigated complex tonalities with pitch precision and conquered rapid passages with intricate fingerings, demanding shifts, double stops, and complex bowing techniques.
After a brief intermission, pianist Anna Kesselman joined the Orchestra to perform the Allegro Maestoso from Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11 By Frédéric Chopin. Kesselman ably expressed the beauty of Chopin’s music through her technical refinement and virtuosity. She soared through the work’s sweeping melodies, powerful chord progressions, and dynamic contrasts, drawing listeners into Chopin’s melancholy, contemplation, triumph, and exultation.
Pianist Sophia Shao closed the evening with the Piano Concerto No. 1. In D flat major, Op. 10 by Sergei Prokofiev. From the onset, Shao demonstrated an exceptional technical prowess required to perform rapid scales, arpeggios, complex fingerings, rhythmic complexity, broad dynamic soundscapes, articulation, and clarity. Shao did all that and more, demonstrating an unerring facility, intensity, and stamina. Breathtaking, exciting, marvelous.
This was a wonderful, heartwarming concert at which listeners could experience the artistry and passion of gifted new artists and winners of the Special Music School High School Concerto Competition. Many thanks to Maestro Bernard, the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, the Kaufman Music Center, the young artists, parents, and teachers for this magnificent event. We shall be hearing much more from these talented musicians.
Tonight’s division and wild-card winners from the 2023 Concerto Competition:
Bianna Bell, Violin | Strings Division Winner (Grade 12)
Romero Biagini-Rosenbaum, Guitar | Winds, Brass, Percussion, and Guitar Division Winner (Grade 12)
Lucie Freeman, mezzo-soprano | Vocal Division Winner (Grade 12)
Griffin Frost, Cello | Wild Card Winner (Grade 9)
Anna Kesselman, Piano | Wild Card Winner (Grade 10)
Sophia Shao, Piano | Piano Division Winner (Grade 9)
Park Avenue Chamber Symphony
David Bernard, Music Director, and Conductor
875 5th Ave, New York, NY 10065
For information on the current season, go to https://chambersymphony.com/
For news about the exciting 2023-2024 season go to: https://bit.ly/PACS202324Events
This concert was presented at the Kaufman Music Center at Merkin Hall at 129 W 67th St., New York, NY 10023
Igal Kesselman, Music Director, Kaufman Music Center’s Special Music School
Andrew Copper, High School Dean of Music, Kaufman Music Center’s Special Music School
Readers may also enjoy our reviews of The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony presents Tales and Transformation, The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony presents Between Sea and Sky: Debussy’s Painters and Poets, and The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony performs Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.