If attending one of the upcoming Nittany Valley Symphony concerts, you’ll notice a few people among the players who stand out, in a good way.
This year, the symphony welcomes six young area students into its midst, following the disbandment of a prior Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania youth orchestra opportunity. The lucky few include Ben Deighton (cellist), Eilene Deng (cellist), Leah Maines (violinist), Anisha Prabhu (violinist), Emily Redmond (bassist) and Daniel Xu (violinist).
These students certainly stand above their peers, an opinion shared by Jan Deihl, the symphony’s first violinist.
“The kids, when they’re in a group like this, progress so quickly. It’s wonderful,” she said. Deihl said it’s their overall dedication to their craft that sets them apart.
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Many have played for their entire lives, several come from musical families and a few even plan to go into music careers.
Deighton, a 10th-grade student at State College Area High School, has aspirations of becoming a professional cellist.
“I’ll probably go to a music school ... music has played the largest role in my life over anything else,” he said. “Both my parents are professional musicians. I’ve always loved music and had an interest in it. ... It’s something that’s changed my life.”
His fellow State High musicians are Maines, who plans to double major in music performance and elementary education, and Redmond, who hopes to have a career in jazz.
“Music has made me more confident and it’s a really big part of my life,” Maines said. “It brings me joy.”
The students are currently preparing for the Sunday’s “Virtuoso/Variation” concert, which features an array of difficult pieces, as well as soloist Max Zorin, performing Paganini’s “Violin Concert No. 1 in D major, Op. 6.”
Music director and conductor Michael Jinbo, gave audiences a taste of what to expect:
“Our opening piece is Boris Blacher’s ‘Orchestral Variations on a Theme of Paganini,’ which ties in beautifully with the Paganini violin concerto. A showcase for orchestra, it is based on the theme of Paganini’s ‘24th caprice’ for solo violin, which is a theme and variations in itself,” he said. “The orchestra will also play the finale from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Suite No. 3,’ which is a massive theme and variations movement that stands on its own. It features different sections of the orchestra and includes a solo variation for violin, played by the concertmaster of our orchestra, Joanne Zagst.”
Zorin continued the sneak peak with a few words on his solo.
“Paganini was a virtuoso, probably the greatest in his time,” Zorin said. “His music is very flashy and technically extremely difficult and like Mozart, very much inspired by opera. His concerto is very dramatic and full of fireworks. I first learned it when I was 15 and that is the last time I played it. It’s a fantastic way to boost one’s technique, definitely a milestone for any violinist.”
“Paganini was a technical wizard who composed pieces for himself to perform that stretched what was thought possible on the violin. He is the quintessential example of a virtuoso. Our soloist Max Zorin, a virtuoso in his own right, has played with us on many occasions and always gives thrilling performances,” Jinbo said.
The symphony has been practicing for weeks and all, including the youth performers, are up to the task. Prabhu said that seeing the transformation from the first rehearsal to the end effect is nothing short of spectacular.
IF YOU GO
▪ What: Nittany Valley Symphony’s “Virtuoso/Variation”
▪ When: 4 p.m. Sunday
▪ Where: Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park
▪ Info: www.nvs.org