Westchester Philharmonic

Ann Hobson Pilot has been with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 40 years.   She was principal harpist from 1980 until her retirement in 2009.

Ms Pilot was the first black woman principal player in a major symphony orchestra.  The composition she soloed in at this performance was On Willows and Birches composed for her specifically by famed composer John Williams who considers her among the greatest harpists in the world. 

This coming from a composer who, in addition to composing a large body of classical works, is one of the most prolific writers of movie scores ever.  Some of the film music he has written The Towering inferno, Jaws, all the Raiders of the lost Ark movies; Close Encounters of the third Kind, Star Wars, and so many more.  So this harp concerto was a very special treat.

The other reason we chose to review this concert was conductor Tomomi Nishimoto, a Japanese woman of dynamic style.  One thinks she will take off as she waves her arms and body like a bird in flight.

We didn’t love the selection – Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and Franz Liszt’s Preludes, but they are part of the classical repertoire and someone has to play them from time to time.  Would I tire of hearing Mozart’s 40th Symphony and clarinet concerto if I had to hear them al the time?  Probably not.  Could I ever get to dislike Beethoven’s seven good symphonies if I heard them all the time?  Probably not.  So sometimes we listen to lesser works for variety. 

In any case, the Westchester Philharmonic is a treasure, and I can not recommend them highly enough.  If you are a person of culture, they must surely be on your radar.