The Purchase Symphony Orchestra Kicks Off Their 2017-2018 Season

Photo Credit: Simone Ritchie

by Simone Ritchie

While most Purchase students can be found migrating between parties and the stood on Friday nights, a handful of select student musicians began the weekend of Sept. 22 by plucking strings and playing some classical greats. Dressed in all black, the musicians of Purchase’s Symphony Orchestra arranged themselves in a semi-circle facing the audience, violin bows and timpani mallets at the ready, prepared to perform their first concert of the year.

It was this weekend that the Purchase Symphony Orchestra kicked off their fall season in the Recital Hall. While the seats weren’t packed to the gills, those in attendance seemed to share the anticipation and excitement of the orchestra themselves, chattering excitedly about the performance that was to come.

The orchestra performed three separate pieces – a rousing and patriotic anthem with Jean Sibelius’s “Finlandia,” Edward Elgar’s sweetly subdued “Serenade for Strings” (which put the spotlight on, you guessed it, the string players), and Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 as the conclusion for the evening ­– evoking the feeling of a fresh summer day equivocal to Westchester County’s recent temperature spikes. Conducted by David Recca, the concert was a feast for both the ears and the eyes, as musicians played with poise and passion.

Luke Borkowski is a junior in the music conservatory, where he studies cello performance. In the Symphony Orchestra, he’s given the opportunity to flex the muscles he’s developed in his training, his instrument his weapon of choice. “The music we create has such a varied and deep sound,” Borkowski said of the ensemble. In total, 54 musicians fill the stage to produce the music heard at their concerts.

While their Friday night concert was the only helping of Sibelius, Elgar, and Schubert that the orchestra is offering this semester, they’ll continue to perform throughout the year. The orchestra’s manager, Teresa Diaz-DeCossio, said that there will be four more performances to come, giving the orchestra plenty of opportunities to flex those musical muscles.

Because of this hectic schedule, the musicians are constantly practicing; their next concert will be held on October 13, where they’ll be performing Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9. “It’s one of his greatest known works,” said Borkowski, excited by the idea of playing it.

Like with most art forms, it isn’t so much the idea of performing that’s exciting, but the act of creating something beautiful as a team. Diaz-DeCossio says that part of the joy she gets out of working with the orchestra is getting to coordinate a large group of people. “There’s such a friendly work environment,” she said, “so it makes the job very easy.”

For Borkowski, it’s all about the tunes. “The best part is being able to make such fantastic music,” he said, referring to working with such a large group of musicians. “It’s such a talented group of people.”