by Michelle Hoffman
This summer 89 Senior Symphony and Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra musicians embarked on a cultural and performance tour of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. We were delighted to read the inspiring and engaging personal accounts of three musician bloggers. From their descriptions of the rich history and scenic beauty of Ireland, to the stories of bonding and camaraderie, to the powerful accounts of creating music and connecting with their audiences, they made us feel as though we were right there with them. We are happy to share their portrayals of the most central aspect of the MYSO touring experience: the music and how it connects us all.
The orchestra’s first performance on July 16, in Ulster Hall in Belfast, made its mark on bassist Kyra Levandoski, of New Berlin, a junior at Eisenhower High School.
“The best part of my day was by far the concert. I didn’t expect many people to show up. I mean, an orchestra of children from a completely different continent? I would be wary at best. But Belfast showed up. When we played our encore, Irish Washerwoman, the audience clapped and cheered. I even heard some people singing along. That moment felt so validating as musicians, and we all felt like one community even though the orchestra and the audience were very different…everybody in the room had an indescribable energy as we played one of Ireland’s national favorites.”
On July 19, the orchestra performed in Wexford at the National Opera House.
Violinist Alyssa Noseworthy, of West Allis, beautifully sums up what made this musical experience so valuable.
“When the concert began, the air of enthusiasm was as tangible as the sonority of our tuning pitches. There was something reciprocal in our interaction with the audience: we loved to play, and they loved to listen. This mutual feeling elevated our music and made it so much more evocative. The emotional content of what we were doing corresponded to the caliber at which we played. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as a musician.”
Alyssa, a senior at Nathan Hale High School, mused that in spite of the significant cultural differences between the U.S. and Ireland, the music still united musicians and audience.
“Even with the split in beliefs and ideologies, we were all joined through music and what it meant to every one of us. And I consider that to be one of the most important expressions of what it means to be human.”
The final tour performance, at the National Concert Hall in Dublin on July 22, brought on a swell of emotion for the musicians. Violist Livia Romanov, a senior at Brookfield Academy, wrote about the deep bonds that had developed between them.
“We arrived at the National Concert Hall and were at a loss for words. Our dress rehearsal only enhanced our excitement to play in such a wonderful hall with an equally wonderful audience. Almost every seat in the auditorium was filled.
Tears fell long before the downbeat. I have been in MYSO for seven years. That is seven years’ worth of friends, and I had to say goodbye to many of them tonight. We still have another 24 hours together, but I said goodbye to the glances we shared during the pieces. I said goodbye to the beautiful clarinet solo in the Copland. I said goodbye to my stand partner who always had my back, musically and personally. I said goodbye to making music with the people I have grown to call my family.”
We encourage you to visit myso.org to read the full Tour Blog.
The destination of MYSO’s 2021 summer tour will be the Netherlands and Belgium.