The set-up of Alice Tully’s stage for the CMS concert, awaiting the high school performers.

Three Local High School Chamber Groups Perform At The Lincoln Center

By Olivia Gu

On May 9, 2024, three chamber groups from Manhasset, Herricks, and Great Neck South High School performed at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall as finalists of the Young Musicians Program fostered by the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center (CMS). The groups first had to surpass the regional stage of the competition, with 13 chamber groups competing from Long Island alone. Regional concerts were held in New Jersey, New York City, Upstate New York, and Connecticut.

From the left: Selena Lu, Hugh Choi, and Sarah Sun (Photos provided by Olivia Gu)

Performing at Alice Tully Hall for the second year in a row, Great Neck Students Hugh Choi (flute), Selena Lu (piano), and Sarah Sun (alto sax.) showcased Russell Peterson’s Trio #1. Since the group “consists of a relatively unique instrumentation…our grouping also comes with the downside of less music written for this specific trio,” Sun explains.

The journey first began over the summer, in which each player practiced their part on their own. As the recording approached in December, the group met once a week in the evening at one of their homes. Even though Choi, Lu, and Sun have been playing together for two years, their piece required strong commitment and intense practice due to the high technical difficulty of the Peterson.

In preparation for the regional and final concert, each group received an hour-long coaching provided by CMS. These coaching sessions provided “deeper polishing” and were “incredibly fruitful to help us truly embrace the “wild west” vibe of the Peterson,” explained Choi. Understandably, the group felt even more nervous going into the competition, considering their achievement the year before. “It felt like the months of rehearsals and hard work had paid off,” said the group.

From Herricks, Ryan Lo, Preston Chan, Amanda Cui, Ryan Yen, and Constantine Cheung performed For the Best by Kaitlyn Raitz for cello quintet. Finding five talented cello players for the group was a feat in itself. However, the piece helped the group stand out even more because “it’s not your conventional, classic composition,” said Chan. Every student had been playing the instrument since a young age, so the “individual preparation was not particularly difficult,” explained Lo.

Guided by the CMS coaching, the seniors of the group, and their music director, Catherine Birke, the group overcame potential challenges, such as practicing on a live stage and syncing the coordination of the varying parts of the piece. While there were sections where multiple cellos had a matching melody, there were also sections that “had a part doing chopped bow strokes [a percussive technique created by the vertical drop and lift motion of the bow] and another one playing the melody, while the other three parts got kind of lost…also, often one part needed to be heard more than the other,” said Lo. The group played a game of trial and error in finding the balance between the parts as Mrs. Birke thoroughly checked their sound during rehearsal. The group’s key to success “was our connection with each other,” said Lo.

Zachary Rho and JP Grassano from Manhasset performed Andres Martin’s Tres Tangos para Duo de Contrabajos.


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