What makes the Charlottesville Symphony such an unusual ensemble? There are almost no other orchestras in the United States that combine the talents and energy of professional musicians, volunteer community members and university students, most of whom are not music majors. A close-knit connection among 109 players with a shared passion for symphonic music results in exciting performances that have been bringing audiences to their feet for 45 seasons.
But in addition to being a dedicated performing ensemble, the Charlottesville Symphony is also a family. Normally, we would have recognized our graduating UVA students at the April concerts. In the absence of that opportunity, the orchestra recently held a Zoom party to thank and celebrate these seven students:
Benjamin Feldman is a Kinesiology major and member of the Horn section. “I enjoy being in [the] orchestra because it lets me share the act of creating music with so many others, and because we can showcase all the time we put into refining that music while bringing pleasure to others.” His favorite piece from his time in the Charlottesville Symphony? - Gustav Holst’s The Planets. Ben will remain at UVA next year while working on a Master of Public Policy degree at the Batten School.
Horn player Katie Kolo is a double major in History and Music (Distinguished Major Program, Performance Concentration). Playing Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 stands out as her most memorable orchestra experience. “I’ve enjoyed the great range of repertoire I’ve gotten to play. I always appreciated the special melding of professionals, students and community members and the respectful and collegial atmosphere! I will miss playing the annual Youth Concerts the most.” In the short term, Katie has an internship at UVA doing research on the Civil War. After that, she hopes to channel her passion for music by working at a cultural institution.
Julia Payne, flutist, also selected The Planets as her favorite performance. She will graduate with a Master of Public Policy degree. Reflecting on her orchestra experience, Julia said, “I really enjoyed having a space in which to come together to create beautiful music. Even rehearsals were a great break from all the stress of school. I will definitely miss performing with the Charlottesville Symphony!” She hopes to re-locate to the Washington, D.C. area to do policy research.
Keerthi Radhakrishnan is a member of the Clarinet section and a Computer Engineering major. Béla Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2 was the work he most enjoyed performing. “Getting to play diverse pieces I had never seen before and gaining a greater appreciation of different musical styles has made it thoroughly refreshing to play a new concert every time.” Keerthi is headed to San Antonio, Texas, to work on space flight software at the Southwest Research Institute.
Oboist and English Horn player Sophia Rosenberg can’t decide between The Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi and Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony as her favorite performance piece. She is an Environmental Science major with a minor in Biology who hopes to pursue a career in science as an ecologist intern for Resources Environmental Sciences (RES). Asked what she likes best about playing in the orchestra, Sophia replied, “Every Wednesday night rehearsal gave me the chance to relax from the stress of coursework and focus instead on creating beautiful music alongside other dedicated musicians. I also made strong friendships with many people of different backgrounds and majors I may not have run into otherwise.”
John Sepanski is a bassoonist and an Economics and Statistics major.
Computer Science major Grace Wu is also a Violist. She will start work in the Technology Department at Capital One in August. “I love the sense of community in the orchestra! I am so thankful for the opportunity to make music with other talented musicians and share that with the Charlottesville community.” Grace also has two favorite works from her years in the Charlottesville Symphony: The Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky and Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations.