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We connect students

The Wire

MWHS Chamber Orchestra Performs with Munich Philharmonic Quartet

Monroe-Woodbury High School’s Chamber Orchestra posing before their performance.

On Friday, Feb. 9, members of the Monroe-Woodbury High School Chamber Orchestra performed with the visiting Munich Philharmonic String Quartet at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Newburgh, New York. While the Munich Philharmonic is based in Germany, they were in New York for a brief concert series at Carnegie Hall, and the Quartet broke away from the group for the evening’s performance in Newburgh.

Performing professionally is not new to the music department, especially the Chamber Orchestra. Last year, the group won several awards at the WorldStrides Heritage Festival in Philadelphia alongside other ensembles in the district. Earlier this year, they won the national Sight Reading Factory competition. But this trip was unique in the fact that it allowed them to hone their orchestral skills under the guidance of professionals.

After school, students and teacher boarded a bus to the church, where they rehearsed Benjamin Britten’s “Simple Symphony” under the guidance of the quartet. During the first hour, the ensemble was coached as a group to improve their technique and sound together. Later, they were divided into groups based on their instrument and focused on their specific parts of the piece with a member of the quartet.

This is where most of the detailed work took place: bowings were changed, style was examined and critiqued, and technique was perfected.

“It was one of my favorite school trips we’ve had! Being directly taught by professional, classical musicians was an unforgettable experience,” said Zara Rahman, the chamber orchestra concertmaster. By the end of the two hour coaching session, the orchestra recombined and rehearsed the piece one last time before playing it for the audience.

After the coaching session, the chamber orchestra went to Billy Joe’s Ribworks on the waterfront for dinner to unwind. There, they celebrated a classmate’s birthday and had time to calm their nerves before their performance.

Being directly taught by professional, classical musicians was an unforgettable experience

— Zara Rahman, the chamber orchestra concertmaster.

With family, friends, and avid classical music fans in the audience, the performance itself was a unique experience for many students. Led by their concert master, the group performed “Boisterous Bourée” written by Benjamin Britten.

“The opportunity of being able to see a professional concert and work side by side with musicians of this caliber is a once in a lifetime experience and one I hope they will never forget,” said Mrs. Byrne, the director of chamber orchestra. After their performance, students received front-row seats to watch the rest of the quartet’s program, which included an arrangement of St. Hildegard von Bingen’s work, Beethoven’s “String Quartet Op. 18 No. 1 in F major”, and Alexander Borodin’s “String Quartet No. 2 in D major.”

The Chamber Orchestra will be performing Britten’s entire “Simple Symphony” composition in their concert on April 30, where they plan to showcase the technique they learned from the Munich Philharmonic Quartet.


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Diya Sethi
Diya Sethi, Social Media Manager
Diya Sethi is a senior at Monroe-Woodbury High School. She joined the publication after returning from her semester in Washington, D.C., because she believes in writing about the issues she cares about. Diya enjoys working in local politics, reading, and, most importantly, listening to Taylor Swift.