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A Night to Remember at Orchestra Hall

Spring has sprung, and CYSO students brought all the joy and energy of the season to an exhilarating evening of music at Sunday’s spring Orchestra Hall concert. From Philharmonic Orchestra’s buoyant opener to the exciting final notes of Rite of Spring, it was a night to be remembered!

The house was packed with concert-goers, including a large alumni contingent returning to cheer on friends and current members of the orchestra. The program opened with Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Assistant Conductor Benjamin Firer, performing John Estacio’s spirited Frenergy. Philharmonic students played their spring concert just the day before, but saved plenty of energy for the Orchestra Hall stage where their performance was met with cheers from the audience.

Philharmonic Orchestra

Next up was the presentation of CYSO’s 2023 awards. Gloria Baek was honored with the Albert Pick III award in honor of her dedication to CYSO and service to the community. Gloria was a member of CYSO for seven years and volunteers sharing music with members of the community. Zachary Allen was honored with this year’s Mollendorf Award, presented to a student who will continue their musical studies in college. Zach has been a member of CYSO for the past four years and will attend Oberlin College Conservatory of Music next year. Finally, the 2023 Music Inspiration Award was presented to Glenbard South High School’s Steve Govertsen. Mr. Goversten was nominated by Sofia Grimes, who shared a few words from the podium about the many hours he dedicates to his students and his trademark sense of humor. Read more about each of this year’s award winners on our blog.

Gloria Baek, Zachary Allen, and Steve Govertsen accept their awards

Following the awards presentation, Symphony Orchestra began their performances with Ellen Taafe Zwilich’s Avanti!, led by Music Director’s Conducting Fellow Zachary Allen. Zach describes in a blog post about his conducting debut that it was his own moxie that got him the Orchestra Hall “gig.” Zach led the orchestra with measured confidence, and got to experience his first curtain call from the cheering audience.

Zachary Allen was this year’s Music Director’s Conducting Fellow

Maestro Tinkham took the podium for the remainder of the concert as co-concertmaster and 2022 Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition winner Henry Auxenfans joined centerstage for his performances of Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto. Henry, who has been a member of CYSO since he was 7 years old, kept the audience on the edge of their seat with his expressive and virtuosic playing, which garnered him an enthusiastic and well-deserved standing ovation. Read more about how Henry prepared for his big moment.

Henry Auxenfans performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto

Next the orchestra took on Webern’s Passacaglia, a piece that infuses an early-20th century approach onto a 17th century form. Following intermission was Gabriela Lena Frank’s Cuentos Errantes: Four New Folk Songs, based loosely on folk motifs from the composer’s mother’s homeland of Peru, which featured impressive piano playing from Zachary Guo.

Zachary Guo takes a bow

The final piece of the night was Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, which stretched the orchestra with its bold harmonies and unorthodox rhythms. Multiple students shined on their solos, including the fantastic winds and brass sections, and the audience was moved to a long standing ovation at the conclusion of the piece. It was a wonderful way to close out Symphony Orchestra’s season.

Thank you to everyone who joined us on Sunday night and congratulations to all our students, especially the many graduating seniors. We wish them all the best in their future adventures and hope to see each of them back for a concert in future years. For everyone else, we’ll see you in the fall!

If you missed the performance, watch the livestream or check out photos from the evening.

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