‘Unforgettable experience’

WWU Symphony Orchestra performs at Carnegie Hall

The Walla Walla University Symphony Orchestra performed at Carnegie Hall in late June 2019 as part of the Music Celebrations International Viennese Masters Orchestra Invitational concert. 

The ensemble earned the invitation in September 2018 after their director, Brandon Beck, submitted a recording of their performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.

While in New York City for the performance, students had the opportunity to explore the city and to see many iconic landmarks, such as Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, and Central Park. Many students also attended a Broadway show one evening.

Beck said that while it was nice to explore the city, the real highlight of the trip was the performance itself. “It was very exciting and overwhelming to be on that stage hearing my orchestra perform so amazingly well! It was an unforgettable experience for all of us,” he said. 

The orchestra, which was comprised of more than WWU 50 students, performed three pieces: “Academic Festival Overture,” Op. 80 by Johannes Brahms; Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16, Movement II Adagio by Edvard Grieg featuring Jinhyang Park, WWU assistant professor of music; and Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Movement IV. Finale by Vasily Kalinnikov.

Luke Thomas, junior biology (premedicine) major and second bass for the orchestra, said he enjoyed exploring New York and performing in the revered venue. “I always thought that Carnegie Hall was where the best of the best played, and I couldn’t believe I had the opportunity to go and join their ranks,” he said. “We sounded and looked so professional, I could hardly believe that it was actually me on that stage and not some other random bass player.”

“It was very satisfying to bring such acknowledgement to the Walla Walla University Department of Music as well as to the hard work and dedication of my students and myself,” said Beck. “It was thrilling for us to perform great music in such a prestigious concert venue. It shows to all students, including those who are not music majors, how inspiring it is to see what can be accomplished when people pull together.”

Posted Nov. 11, 2019.

Brandon Beck conducts the students' rehearsal before the performance in Carnegie Hall
In late June 2019 Brandon Beck directed the 50 students of the WWU Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall in New York City, New York.