On Friday, the Play On, Philly! String Orchestra performed at the Kimmel Center under the direction of Yannick Nezet-Seguin. The ensemble, comprised of students ages nine to thirteen from the St. Francis de Sales School, opened the Mozart celebration subscription concert with a performance of the first movement of Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik.
Throughout the performance, the young players responded seamlessly to Nezet-Seguin’s cues for dynamics and phrasing, performing the piece with a high level of professionalism and sophistication. The students played with assurance and confidence, completing the performance without a single wobble or wrong note. What was also in evidence was the technique of each individual player. Relaxed bow arms and flexible bow hands were consistent throughout the ensemble, from the double bass players to the second violins.
Conductor and students finished to enthusiastic applause and a standing ovation. This was the ensemble’s third appearance opening a Philadelphia Orchestra concert and the first under Mr. Nezet-Seguin.
Play On, Philly! (POP), established in 2011, is an education and social initiative that provides musical instruction and personal development to children grades K-8. POP serves over two-hundred children at two sites in Philadelphia, St. Francis de Sales School and Freire Charter Middle School.
Following the POP students, the Philadelphia Orchestra took the stage to perform Mozart’s Overture to Don Giovanni. The Piano Concerto No. 20 came next, performed by the nineteen-year-old soloist, Jan Lisiecki, making his subscription debut with the orchestra.
The concert concluded with the Symphony No. 40 in G minor. Throughout the piece, Nezet-Seguin coaxed forth hidden melodies and phrases which are usually not so apparent in other performances and recordings. These nuances were heard particularly in the first movement in the cellos and brass.