By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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Below her article (In addition to the photo gallery), see the "wall to wall" photo of the orchestra on stage at Carnegie Hall.
There's nothing quite like a concert here, in the vermilion-and-ivory temple in midtown Manhattan.
And Easter Sunday, 110 young musicians from Port Angeles experienced it: performing Beethoven, Dvorak, Wiren and Hans Zimmer for a crowd at the 2,804-seat Isaac Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall.
Ron Jones, director of the Port Angeles High School Roughrider Orchestra, brought his most devoted musicians here for the performance.
They provided the finale for the Ensemble Spotlight concert presented by MidAmerica Productions with two other orchestras: the Carolina Youth Symphony of Greenville, S.C., and the Redmond (Wash.) High School Mustang Orchestra.
(In addition to the photo gallery, see the "wall to wall" photo of the orchestra on stage, below this article.)
Rehearsing and sightseeing
The Port Angeles High contingent arrived in the city Thursday, and spent Friday and Saturday rehearsing in the mornings and sightseeing into the night.
Mary Kheriaty, a 14-year-old violist in the Roughrider Orchestra, responded quickly to a reporter's question: “On a scale of one to 10, how excited are you about performing on that storied stage?”
“Twenty-five,” she answered.
Sunday's performance was a 40-minute crescendo, following years of fundraising, countless hours of practice and, just beforehand, disbelief.
“We're going to touch the stage the Beatles were on,” said cellist Daniel Williams, 15. “I'm freaking out about that.”
The four lads from Liverpool performed at Carnegie Hall twice in one day — Feb. 12, 1964 — during their first trip to New York on the same visit that put them on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
The Roughrider Orchestra's first two rehearsals were at the Grand Hyatt, where the students and their chaperones stayed; the final one had them entering the stage door of Carnegie Hall on Sunday morning.
Immediately afterward, violinist Leah Marsh, 15, a classical music and opera buff, voiced her feelings.
The rehearsal was “nerve-racking,” she said.
But the acoustics, she said, were “just amazing.”
Those acoustics, according to www.CarnegieHall.org, are the work of architect William Burnett Tuthill (1855-1929), an amateur cellist who studied European concert halls.
Tuthill chose not to add heavy curtains, frescoed walls or chandeliers, and gave his hall an elliptical shape and domed ceiling.
All of this “helps project soft and loud tones alike to any location in the hall,” the website said.
As for Maestro Jones, he stepped to the front of the stage where Arturo Toscanini and Leonard Bernstein, among other famed conductors, did before him.
Jones had spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning showing no mercy in rehearsals. Look up and don't rush, he told his 26 cellists, 23 violists, five bassists and 56 violinists.
On Sunday afternoon, in white tie and tails, Jones ascended the podium.
He lifted the baton, then moved his hands gently, as if caressing the air.
As the wave of sound rose, he spread his arms wide, as if embracing the music and the young people creating it.
Jones' selections were Beethoven's Allegretto, from the Seventh Symphony written two centuries ago; Dvorak's “American Rondo,” which the composer wrote 120 years ago after spending a summer in Iowa; Wiren's “Serenade for Strings” from 1937, and Zimmer's “At World's End,” from the third “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie of 2007.
Been here before
Concertmaster and Port Angeles High School senior Erin Hennessey is the only one of the students who had been here before.
She played with such verve as an eighth-grader that she was given a special invitation to join the Roughrider Orchestra on their trip four years ago.
Hennessey, 18, admitted Sunday that back then, she “wasn't really conscious” of the place Carnegie Hall holds in the world of music.
“I'm really happy I got to come back,” she said softly. "It's pretty incredible.”
At the end of Sunday's performance, Jones and the orchestra took their bows to a rain of applause that quickly became a standing ovation.
Then, as the musicians beamed, Jones shook the hands of as many students as he could get to before they all left the stage.
Sunday evening would not be one of rest for the musicians, though: three plush tour buses whisked them off for a dinner cruise around New York Harbor. Then came an ice cream and karaoke party hosted by Jones, wife Debbie and the 25 chaperones.
As for this morning, the flock of teens are scheduled for a tour of the United Nations.
They will return home Tuesday, flying to Sea-Tac International Airport and then boarding school buses back to Port Angeles.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz, who will be in New York through Tuesday, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ROUGHRIDER ORCHESTRA AT CARNEGIE HALL
(IPAD USERS: if the orchestra photo below does not display — it uses Flash — click on https://www.box.com/s/0391yre88l1mak5fm4qr, ignore any warning messages, then click on "Clallam 01 Carnegie Stage.jpg.")