On November 2, the BPYO took over Symphony Hall for a free sold-out concert. So sold out, in fact, that we had to turn away hundreds of people! Following this tremendous success, the members of the orchestra wrote white sheets to Maestro Zander to explain how it felt to be on stage that evening. We'd like to share a few of them with you now. Enjoy!
Ruth Swope, high school junior and violinist in the BPYO:
"I'd never played in a concert in Symphony Hall before. I'd also never played in a real concert where the admission is free. The combination of those two first time experiences last Monday left an indelible mark on my memory up to this point, and even, I think, a very special imprint on my soul. The scene is still clear and alive in my mind of facing a totally packed hall after an amazing performance, seeing Mr. Zander's arms stretched wide in the joy and triumph of the evening. Many people came to that concert who never would have come had it not been free, and not only was it a wonderful experience for them as listeners, but it made it all the more spectacular and exciting for us as players to perform for such an enormous crowd. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from myself and for all the other people who were able to attend! I only hope I'll be able to have a similar experience later in my life as a musician."
Rodion Belousov, sophomore at Longy School of Music and oboist in the BPYO:
"I wanted to share with you what it meant for me to perform at the Symphony Hall on Monday November 2nd. Playing at the Symphony Hall is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity, it is truly an honor and privilege and a result of a hard work. It was a full house that night, which enhanced my experience tremendously. And after the concert ended we received a long standing ovation, people were extremely happy and grateful for being able to attend this concert. I was so happy that I was able to share my passion and my art with so many people.
I wanted to especially thank our generous sponsors for providing us and the audience with such a wonderful opportunity! I will never forget that beautiful night and the tremendous joy of being a part of this orchestra and being able to perform in one of the greatest halls in the whole world!"
Leland Ko, high school senior and cellist in the BPYO:
"I guess you could say this is why I want to thank that foundation for making Monday’s concert free - it gave us the opportunity to create something between performer and audience. It gave us the opportunity to elevate them (and ourselves) to a higher level of emotional consciousness. I am lucky to have that as part of my life, the knowledge that such states of being exist. People toss off the arts a lot of the time because, unlike learning in an academic sphere, what we gain from it is not easily as assessable or measurable. It’s almost like the difference between intelligence quotient and emotional quotient. The way music changes us is, like our emotional quotient, only recently understood, if understood at all. And even if it is understood, it is hard to explain. But we know music changes us - and that’s what matters. We know it makes us feel something real. And that something is food for the soul, which a lot of people toss off as superficial, but as musicians and artists, we truly believe that feeding the soul is just as much part of being human as sleep and shelter and food and relationships. Being on stage, and having the chance to feed the souls of over 2,000 people is just an incredible idea. Listening to a recording is one thing. Being at a live concert is another. Being at a live concert is feeling like you are just surrounded by something so powerful. Even from the stage, it feels like it’s coming from every direction (not only the sound itself but the atmosphere). You have seen me cry my eyes out on the front of a stage on multiple occasions with this orchestra. Those moments are ones that I can never forget. They are proof to me of how much music means to me. They are proof of the ability of music to elevate us to new levels of emotional awareness, to unlock parts of us that make us human. They are proof that music creates a connection between people - I can sit there, and the people around me can do something so wonderful that it makes me break down in tears. The people around me have that power. And it all translates to the audience. It’s unimaginably wonderful."
Nate Klause, student at Boston University and french horn player in the BPYO:
"This concert was hugely important! It was exciting. People were excited to hear us and we were excited to play. Nothing about the concert was mundane.
I hate to be negative, but there are times that I will go to concerts by professional orchestras and be unimpressed by the unexcited nature of the event. The level of technique and professionalism is unparalleled and it is always great to hear that, but when the orchestra seems less invested in the music the audience is notably affected. It feels routine like and the listener finds it harder to access and enjoy. I often leave those concerts curious to why the ensemble and conductor wanted to perform those works other than because they can play the notes on the page.
Because of the Free for All grant and the BPO we could share with a huge number of people, both new to and familiar with classical music, a tangible reason of why we do what we do. Performing with passion for a purpose. We went onto the stage of Symphony Hall brimming with energy, wanting to show everyone in the packed hall what we were capable of and how we were different. Every voice matters in the orchestra, and because we all have an input we all are that much more invested. This must have been obvious yet profound to the audience. After finishing the overture, it was obvious to me that it indeed was. The applause was deafening (I've never heard anything like it) and I found that I couldn't stop smiling! It took until the start of the Stravinsky for me to gain control of my face. If every classical music concert could achieve this sensation, the outlook on the future would be incredibly different. We would be rock stars! Every concert would be packed and lines would file down the street preceding the event. The entire game would change.
This is why I believe BPYO is so important. It lives and works in a world where classical music has a bright future. It believes that every concert is significant and has something to offer to both the audience and the performers. It's an organization unlike any other and it's a pleasure to have played a role in it.
This concert has been one of the best concert experiences in my life and I hope that I can take part in another one like it."