By Edward Kliszus

Tonight was an event when The Orchestra Now Performs Barber, Strauss, and Schumann. The concert unfolded in New York City’s Peter Norton Symphony Space. In this free concert, a full house enjoyed a marvelous selection of vital, essential selections from the orchestral canon.

Gossip and Backbiting

Violinist Judith Kim eloquently introduced the first two works, Samuel Barber’s programmatic The School for Scandal Overture, Op. 5 (1933), and Richard Strauss’s remarkable tone poem, Death and Transfiguration. Op. 24 (1890). Kim articulately described each work’s provenance, noting that The Overture was rooted in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 18th-century eponymous drama, which satirized the gossip and backbiting of the British upper class. She stressed that Strauss’s work portrayed the artist’s struggle with mortality.

Violinist JUDITH KIM introduced the Barber and Strauss pieces

Violinist JUDITH KIM introduced the Barber and Strauss pieces.

Cinematic Soundscapes

Conductor Zachary Schwartzman launched Barber’s vibrant, lively composition, portraying the humor and sophistication of Sheridan’s play. After the powerful opening bars, the strings advanced angular melodic structures. These proceeded splendid woodwind passages leading to expansive, orchestral, cinematic soundscapes.

Lush String and Horn Passages

A delightful melody performed by the oboe imbued the piece with an air of playfulness and whimsy before the lush string and horn passages. The Orchestra masterfully portrayed the work’s rhythmic energy and dynamic contrasts, honoring Barber’s characteristic stylings.

These young artists ultimately captured the work’s irony, lightheartedness, and seamless blending of classical traditions with contemporary sensibilities that are faithful to the work’s source material.

Rich Pathos

The Orchestra commanded the rich pathos of Strauss’s masterpiece. The work’s themes demanded sophisticated employment of orchestral techniques to paint vivid sonic images of the artist’s physical and emotional turmoil before his imminent death. This and more were achieved as the artists musically explored Strauss’s experiences with death, dying, and the complex associated emotions.

Conductor Zachary Schwartzman with The Orchestra Now at Symphony Space. Photo by Edward Kliszus

Conductor Zachary Schwartzman with The Orchestra Now at Symphony Space. Photo by Edward Kliszus

Soulful Woodwinds

Tonight’s interpretation of the Strauss reflected expressive, refined use of musical elements. The musicians performed elegant melodic passages through rich, lush strings, brass, and soulful woodwinds. They brought to life the artist’s struggle to come to terms with his mortality. Dramatic pulsing by the tympani and a resounding gong ably characterized the inevitable passage of time.

Sonic Suffusion

The audience’s sonic suffusion ranged from beautiful solos from the violin concertmaster, flute, oboe, and ethereal harps. Moreover, from sweeping strings to the somber intones of the woodwind section, the music evoked a wide range of emotions in listeners. The Orchestra’s portrayal of the work’s unique structures and tonal shifts kept listeners engaged until the final triumphant notes of the transfiguration were articulated through a magnificent, ascending, and dramatic appoggiatura.

Elation and Despair

Cellist EVA ROEBUCK introduced Schumann's Symphony No. 4

Cellist EVA ROEBUCK introduced Schumann’s Symphony No. 4

Cellist Eva Roebuck came to the forefront to introduce Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 (1841). She expressively described Schumann as a Romantic composer and noted his challenges with mental health and ultimate demise in a mental asylum. The Symphony No. 4 portrayed Schumann’s elation and despair. We discovered the work was a remake of Schumann’s Second Symphony before Roebuck introduced tonight’s conductor, Zachary Schwartzman.

Gifted Graduate Students

Maestro Schwartzman welcomed and thanked everyone for coming. His salutary remarks recognized The Orchestra Now’s accomplishments and their status as gifted graduate students of music performance. He reminded everyone that the Bard School, the home of The Orchestra Now, relied on donations to offer programs like today’s at Symphony Space.

Leonard Bernstein

Schwartzman also spoke of a new film entitled Maestro. It opens on November 22 and is about Leonard Bernstein’s life. It was produced by Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, with Bradley Cooper starring as Bernstein. The Orchestra Now played a role in the movie, along with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Continuous, Immersive Flow of Sound

Schwartzman began the Orchestra’s interpretation of Schumann’s Symphony No. 4. The work’s provenance was highly significant as it was composed after Schumann recovered from a mental breakdown. As expected, the work was characterized by an enigmatic and somewhat fragmented structure and, as Schumann intended, a continuous, immersive flow of sound.

Dramatic and Lyrical Elements

The Orchestra rose to the occasion, magnificently expressing the emotional depth, transparency, and originality of this timeless masterpiece of Schumann’s genius. Listeners were mesmerized by the work’s unique harmonies and portrayal of the delicate balance between dramatic and lyrical elements. The cello solo was marvelous!

Fantastic Concert

Tonight was a fantastic concert of challenging, diverse, and intriguing music. The musicians performed with intensity, purpose, and virtuosic brilliance. They delivered moments of excitement, adulation, passion, pathos, and profound serenity.

Schwartzman delivered precise, expressive leadership with aplomb; accordingly, the musicians responded with passion, bravura, and brilliance. Articulation, dynamics, entrances, and intonation were excellent, while ensemble and solo work were inspiring!

Runtime approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, including intermission 

The Orchestra Now Performs Barber, Strauss, and Schumann

Peter Norton Symphony Space

Zachary Schwartzman, Conductor
Leon Botstein, Music Director

SAMUEL BARBER The School for Scandal Overture

RICHARD STRAUSS Death and Transfiguration

Ziemlich langsam—Lebhaft
Romanze: Ziemlich langsam
Scherzo: Lebhaft

The Artists

Violin 1: Samuel Frois (Concertmaster), Chance McDermott, Haley Schricker, Seunghye Park, Enikő Samu, Haley Maurer Gillia, Judith Kim, Shengjia (Sherry) Zhang, Jonathan Fenwick, Leonardo Pineda ’15 TŌN ’19, Luca Sakon

Violin II: Yaewon Choi (Principal), Lana Auerbach, Nayoung Kim, Julián Andrés, Rey Peñaranda, Yi-Ting Kuo, Zeyi Sun, Emerie Mon, Gökçe Erem

Viola: Emmanuel Koh TŌN ’19 (Principal), Andrea Natalia Torres-Álvarez, Tania Ladino Ramirez, Sydney Link, Michael Halbrook, Keegan Donlon

Cello: Yuri Ahn (Principal), Dariimaa Batsaikhan, Eva Roebuck, Emma Churchill, Amelia Smerz, Sam Boundy

Bass: Rowan Puig Davis (Principal), Holdan Silva Acosta, Milad Daniari TŌN ’18, Luke Stence TŌN, ’22,

Flute: Olivia Chaikin, Principal (Barber, Strauss), Jordan Arbus, Principal (Schumann), Chase McClung, Piccolo (Barber)

Oboe: David Zoschnick, Principal (Barber, Strauss), Quinton Bodnár-Smith, Principal (Schumann), English Horn (Barber, Strauss), Shawn Hutchison

Clarinet: Colby Bond, Principal (Barber, Strauss), Zachary Gassenheimer, Principal (Schumann), Bass Clarinet (Barber, Strauss), Dávid Kéringer

Bassoon: Miranda Macias, Principal (Barber), Contrabassoon (Strauss), Kylie Bartlett, Principal (Strauss), Han-Yi Huang, Principal (Schumann)

Horn: Stefan Williams, Principal (Barber) and Assistant (Strauss), Tori Boell, Principal (Strauss), Daniel Itzkowitz, Principal (Schumann), Douglas Nunes, Ziming Zhu

Trumpet: Forrest Albano, Principal (Barber), Giulia Rath, Principal (Strauss), Jid-anan Netthai, Principal (Schumann)

Trombone: Stephen Whimple, Principal (Barber, Schumann), Zachary Johnson, Principal (Strauss), Samuel Boeger, Bass Trombone

Tuba: Tyler Woodbury

Timpani: Miles Salerni

Percussion: Petra Elek, Principal (Barber), Nick Goodson, Principal (Strauss), Luca Esposito

Harp: Cheng Wei (Ashley) Lim, Principal, Violetta Maria Norrie

THE ORCHESTRA NOW / @theorchnow


P.O. Box 5000
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Bard College
NY 12504



Readers may also enjoy our reviews of Transcendent Triumph and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2,  The American Symphony Orchestra and the Roaring 20s, The American Classical Orchestra presents a Romantic FantasyVenice City of Light at St. John the Divine, and The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony performs Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.