Sharing Memories from a Trip of a Lifetime!

Chelsea Anderson, RI Philharmonic Youth Ensembles Manager, had a day to remember when she took the RI Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra to perform at Carnegie Hall!

“The saying ‘Time flies’ is more relevant to me when I consider that it has been one month since June 23rd – a Friday to remember for the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra! At the glorious hour of 6:00am, Christine Eldridge, the Assistant Music School Director, 80 students, 9 chaperones and I packed up two charter buses to head to New York City to perform in the 2017 Viennese Masters Invitational. Only four other orchestras from around the country were invited. After a three-and-a-half-hour bus ride from the Carter Center, we arrived in New York City, settled in for a quick lunch and the students walked to Carnegie Hall for the sound check.

The hall was beautiful – it made me think of a palace with its balconies and seats waiting to be filled with music lovers. Rehearsal went by quickly – students realized in this moment that this was happening. THEY were going to play at Carnegie Hall – something a musician may dream of but never achieve. After exploring the Carnegie Museum and practically buying out the store, we headed to dinner at Dallas BBQ. Never had I seen 80 students be so quiet as they scarfed down their dinner. The Symphony Orchestra returned to Carnegie more energetic than ever. It was time. After costume changes and warming up, students were given some last-minute advice from their beloved conductor Alexey Shabalin. “Do not be afraid to move. Make room for yourself and really feel the music. Let the audience feel something. Most importantly, do not be afraid to make a mistake.”

Christine and I snuck out of the backstage area and into our box seats. My heart raced as the Symphony Orchestra sat down. From the first notes of Mozart’s Don Giovanni Overture, to the playful passing of the melody in Bach’s Fugue in G minor (The Shorter), to the emotional and triumphant performance of Stravinsky’s Berceuse and Finale from the Firebird Suite, this was the concert of a lifetime.

To be honest, I cried – out of pride and because of the sheer force of emotion from the concert. For 9 months these students practiced and worked towards this moment. They had been awake and running around for 16 hours that day. Yet, they left it all on the stage without any hesitation. Those 80 students let that auditorium see and hear what music is to them. Alexey Shabalin pushed our students and squeezed them for everything they had. The whole auditorium practically leapt to their feet to give our students an honest and rousing standing ovation.

After quickly leaving the stage and packing up, we headed home. The students were glowing and beaming with pride. THEY performed at Carnegie Hall as part of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. THEY earned a standing ovation.

With a 24-hour day behind them, students went home exhausted and ready to sleep for a week. Four weeks later, I still hear students use any opportunity they can to tell people that they performed at Carnegie Hall.

I am so proud of our students as is the entire Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School and Orchestra. We made a lifetime of memories on that one long and amazing day. I could not have asked for anything more.”

  • Chelsea Anderson, Youth Ensembles Manager