Westchester Philharmonic

May 15, 2011

You may not know it, but we have a kick butt professional orchestra here in Westchester County, in White Plains on the campus of SUNY Purchase. 

A little problem earlier this year when world renowned Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman, in his third year as musical director, left abruptly and took his 300 year old Stradivarius with him.

But we got lucky.  Executive Director Josh Worby scored big when he booked conductor Jaime Laredo.  Mr. Laredo does not easily accept being called maestro, but he will have to suffer it.  He has his bona fides having made his orchestral debut with the San Francisco Symphony at 11 years old.  Along with very talented young pianist Orion Weiss, they turned this program of Rossini, Chopin and Beethoven into nothing short of wonderful.  The thing about classical music – any good music really, but especially classical because it stands so tall among other forms – is that when it is played well it makes the mind wander to wherever it must. 

The Chopin piano concerto  took me on a journey into an Elysian Field, a trip to the very best of my compassion and good will.  During stormier passages I wandered to battlefields and ships at sea, and the dark passages brought me straight to those hidden places in my mind which I do not care to share.  Scary how influenced we can be by music.  That is the magic. 

Pianist Orion Weiss’s fingers flew across the keyboard making the music soar, transporting me.  The bassoon solo during the larghetto was sublime and the counterpoint between the flutes arpeggio and the basses pizzicato was superbly performed.  Naturally, credit for the written score goes to Chopin, but it takes musicians of high caliber under a skilled baton to bring it off.  Mr. Laredo is such a conductor and these musicians are such musicians.

I could not sit still and wondered how so many in the audience could.  Did the music not reach them?  How did they not bounce around in their seats during passionate passages.  A mystery to me.

Capping off the concert was the best known symphony ever written:  Beethoven’s Fifth.  The orchestra played it beautifully and the hall’s acoustics carried it evenly and symmetrically.  Great concert, great orchestra, great venue.

You will find them at www.Westchesterphil.org or just google them.  The current season has ended, but I will surely attend as many of next year’s concerts as possible and I recommend this orchestra to every single appreciator of music in the world.