Striking a Chord: The Bishop’s Winter Orchestra Concert


Nora Bitar

The Honors Strings plays St. Paul’s Suite by Gustav Holst. Pictured are Isadora Blatt (‘24), Lilian Franqui (‘25), William Guo (‘24), Athena Hernandez (‘23), Cesar Tadeo (‘24), Ethan Yang (‘27), Kayley Xu (‘27), Natasha Mar (‘23), Novalyne Petreikis (‘23), Giacomo Berti (‘24), and Mr. Anderson.

Last Friday and Saturday nights, January 20-21, the Taylor Performing Arts Center bustled with students, teachers, and parents, as the Bishop’s orchestra hosted their annual winter concert.
Characterized by a genre-diverse music selection, this show boasted a wide-range of songs. From classical Beethoven pieces all the way to movie soundtracks, there was a type of music to satisfy everyone’s preferences. Katherine Ge (‘24), who plays piano and percussion in the orchestra confirmed this sentiment — and gave credit to Mr. Anderson, the Head of Instrumental Music. “I like the diversity of music Mr. Anderson chooses for each semester,” she said, “And [how] you never know what to expect.”
The format of the concert accommodates this variety. “The first 45 minutes or so are chamber groups — so smaller groups and also solo instruments,” explained Giacomo Berti (‘24), who plays double bass, electric bass, and drums (and timpani during this concert) in the orchestra. He added, “Then there’[s] an intermission, followed by the Honors Strings, which is a group of [ten] string players. Then the full orchestra play[s] four pieces.” In Mr. Anderson’s words, “We have everything from solo piano, to full orchestra, and a lot of stuff in between.”
These varying setups and group organizations helped foster more musical range in the different performances. For example, the chamber groups in the first half allowed for more individual talent to be showcased.
Among others, Giacomo played an electric bass solo, Natasha Mar (‘23) and Novalyne Petreikis (‘23) played the iconic “He’s A Pirate” song from Pirates of the Caribbean on the cellos, and Aidan Kaplan (‘23) played Piano Sonata No. 17 in D Minor, a dramatic, emotional piano solo. All these performances helped give character to the performers, and gave them a platform to choose songs tailored to their specific likings.
The Honors Strings also helped to showcase individual performers. Its members include Isadora Blatt (‘24), Lilian Franqui (‘25), William Guo (‘24), Athena Hernandez (‘23), Cesar Tadeo (‘24), Ethan Yang (‘27), Kayley Xu (‘27), Natasha Mar (‘23), Novalyne Petreikis (‘23), and Giacomo Berti (‘24). Because there weren’t as many people on stage, the audience could appreciate the individual sounds of each instrument, while also listening to the cohesive harmonies of all the instruments working together. As Athena (who plays violin) said,“Because it’s a smaller piece, it’s really cool to see each section.”
One special performer in Honors Strings was Mr. Anderson himself, who got to play the viola as the group performed St. Paul’s Suite by Gustav Holst. “I just love that,” Mr. Anderson said — in reference to getting to perform himself, as opposed to his more typical conducting role.
And of course, the power and beauty of the full orchestra pieces were unforgettable as well. The Edvard Griege pieces from his Peer Gynt Suite, felt cinematic, dramatic, and delightful to listen to — in large part because of how many different instruments were incorporated. As Giacomo explained, when everyone in the orchestra works together, “It is a well-oiled machine.”
More generally, an orchestra is a great platform to allow musicians to work together in a unique setting. “I grew up playing only solo music on the piano, with the exception of a few duets. I’d never been in an orchestra until fall of my sophomore year, when I first joined,” explained Katherine. She added, “Even though I only play percussion and piano, I think it’s a lot more fun to create something with other people than just by yourself.”
Aidan felt similarly to Katherine. “As someone who’s studied solo piano my whole life, playing with other musicians is something very fulfilling for me. As much as I enjoy solo piano, I also appreciate having a community of people with the common interest of classical music.”
Orchestra is also a fantastic space for students to simply get to showcase their work. As Mr. Anderson explained, “In general, the orchestra is to give the students [a chance to] perform on campus in front of their families and friends, in a setting where they don’t the rest of the week.”
The Bishop’s Orchestra is an extremely talented group of students, and their performances are invigorating and impressive to watch. If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of their concerts, I certainly recommend it.