What better way to celebrate the solstice weekend than with a delightful season opening concert by the Music Academy’s Festival Orchestra. Maestro Larry Rachleff, renowned for his ability to bring a group of musicians together with minimal rehearsal time, truly outdid himself with this concert, which took place a full week ahead of when the orchestra has been expected to perform over the last few years. The venue was also special; Hahn Hall is less than a third the size of the Granada, and putting a full orchestra on its stage guarantees that every note will be crystal clear all the way to the back row.
Pianist Sylvia Qianhui Jiang, the winner of the MAW’s 2018 concerto competition, returned as soloist for the opening number, the Symphonic Variations of César Franck. This 15-minute whirlwind of a piece provided an apt introduction to the evening’s main event, a splendid account of the Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 55 of Ludwig van Beethoven.
Rachleff and the orchestra achieved a perfect balance between rapidity and majesty as Beethoven’s first truly epic symphony unfolded. Flutes, trumpets, horns, and oboes carried out their starring roles to vivid effect, and the capacity audience was thrilled by the sheer exuberance of these young players at the outset of their Music Academy experience.