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Bernard takes a selfie with the audience to commemorate this special event. (Photo credit David Bernard)

Massapequa Philharmonic Performs One-of-a-Kind Concert

On Sunday, March 10, a one-of-a-kind concert came to Great Neck’s Temple Emanuel. The Massapequa Philharmonic presented their InsideOut™ series; a fully immersive concert where the audience experienced Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 from their seats inside the orchestra.

As the event description accurately captures; the experience of not only hearing, but seeing and feeling the music with an entire symphony orchestra around you is extraordinary—the iMax of Classical Music—better than any escape room. Even if you’ve heard and seen Beethoven’s Fifth many times, experiencing this amazing work up close is revelatory. As amazing as it is to hear Beethoven’s Fifth on a recording or even in a live performance, experiencing this work from inside an orchestra is on a whole other level.

Music Director and Conductor David Bernard addresses the orchestra and
the audience.
(Photo credit Lauren Feldman)

The Philharmonic’s conductor and musical director, David Bernard, explained what makes an InsideOut™ concert so special to him. “My chief motivation as a conductor is sharing what I love about classical music with audiences and musicians,” he explained. “But through an InsideOut™ Concert, we can go farther — sharing not only the music, but the incredible experience of 80 to 100 musicians making music all around you. It is a special thrill to see audience members who have only listened to classical music on recordings or even in traditional live concerts, experience symphonic music from inside the orchestra. The electricity between the musicians and the spatial sound world the audience gets to experience is incredibly captivating, and it hooks them, just as it did each musician.”

Why choose Beethoven for this kind of performance? Beethoven’s Fifth is iconic. The opening four note theme (and what follows) truly rocked the world for generations. Their rhythm, short-short-short-long, was used as the letter “V” in the design of Morse Code, and the opening theme was taken as the theme of the Allies in World War 2 signifying “V for Victory”. This work has captivated audiences for over 200 years, being chosen as the opening work for the inaugural concerts of the New York Philharmonic and the National Symphony, and was included in the recording sent into space to demonstrate humanity’s artistic accomplishments. It seemed only fitting to unite the experiences of audience and player alike through this dynamic work.

For Bernard, being able to bring this iconic concert to Great Neck, the town of his youth, was especially humbling. “It was a special experience bringing InsideOut™ Concerts to Great Neck — my childhood home,” he said. “Great Neck’s Public School music program has always been top notch, and it was my public school music teachers who inspired me to become a musician, and who gave me my first ‘inside out’ experiences — in band and orchestra. In our event at Temple Emanuel — my childhood synagogue where I was Bar Mitzvahed — by giving these audience members their first InsideOut™ experience, I felt that honored to be able to give back to this wonderful town that gave me so much.”

The same Rabbi who Bar Mitzvahed Bernard is still there today; Rabbi Robert Widom, who was in attendance for the concert, spoke on just how special this Temple Emanuel reunion was. “This is truly a special event. You’re in for a treat,” he began. “Beethoven’s Fifth is a masterful piece, performed [today] by masterful people.” Of Bernard, Widom could only offer praise. “I was so grateful when he told us he’d be playing tonight. He’s a busy guy,” Widom laughed, “With a very busy schedule, and we’re grateful that he could set aside time today for us.” Widom emphasized Bernard’s unique take on classical performances, calling him the “Jonny Appleseed of Classical music.”

Throughout the concert, audience members were called on to describe their experiences. A trademark of Bernard’s concerts is his desire to immerse the audience and help them feel like a part of the performance. “It’s exciting [to be in the orchestra],” said one audience member. “It’s a totally new experience for me, even though I’ve been to many concerts before.” Another member described the experience of the concert like changing weather. “It was a tempest, the thunderstorms and lightning. Then it became a soft kind of rain, and at the end, sun and clear skies.” A few audience members also commented it was fun to see Bernard’s expressions as he conducted; when in a traditional concert, the audience can only see the conductor’s back.
With the overwhelming success of the concert, one can only hope that Bernard and the Massapequa Philharmonic will perform another InsideOut™ experience again soon on Long Island.

For those that missed this experience, the Massapequa Philharmonic puts on regular seasonal performances at the Alfred G. Berner Middle School in Massapequa. Their next show, Sublime Beauty, will be performed on March 24 at 3 p.m. For more information on this concert, and all things Massapequa Philharmonic, visit https://www.massphil.com/

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