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Westminster Community Orchestra Honors Esteemed Piano Pedagogue



n every musical community there are unsung heroes who do not necessarily take the spotlight, but who, through their teachings over a long period of time, influence countless musicians. The Westminster Community Orchestra honored one of these individuals in a performance this past Sunday afternoon at Richardson Auditorium. Led by Conductor Ruth Ochs, the Community Orchestra presented music of Mozart and Brahms and paid tribute to long-time Westminster Choir College faculty member Phyllis Alpert Lehrer. A member of the Westminster piano faculty for the past 40 years, Ms. Lehrer showed her impressive performance capabilities in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor. Throughout her 40-year association with Westminster Choir College, Ms. Lehrer has surely taught exactly the kind of musician who plays in the community orchestra. Often trained as professional musicians and working in other fields, these players rise to the challenge of the great orchestral masterworks. The collaboration between the orchestra and Ms. Lehrer brought out the best in everyone. Ms. Lehrer began the first solo lines of the C minor concerto thoughtfully, with clean phrasing and chords. Deceptively delicate and reserved at the keyboard, Ms. Lehrer took off with the music in short order to display even fluidity in both hands over very rapid passages. Every note of the rolling lines was clear and audible, with elegant ends to phrases. Ms. Lehrer’s freely-composed cadenzas to the movements showed strength of hands, building drama through lyrical passages and interpolating a harmonic flavor leaning clearly toward Beethoven. Ochs led the orchestra in an exacting accompaniment in which the players were exactly in time with the piano soloist. The wind sections gained confidence as the first movement progressed, with especially graceful playing from oboists Helen Ackley and Sandra Moskovitz and

bassoonists Greg Rewoldt and Linda Balavram. Ms. Ackley and Mr. Rewoldt also had a number of solo passages which were well executed. Ochs paired the Mozart work with another piece of celebratory nature, as well as a classical orchestral piece which the orchestra clearly enjoyed playing. Olga Gorelli’s Celebration was a one movement piece on an appropriate theme from a local composer, but was probably the hardest for the audience to grasp. Seemingly in two keys at once at times, Celebration had a joyous feel well conveyed by Ochs to the players. The more substantial and familiar work was Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 in D Major, a piece which the orchestra could sinks its collective teeth into with vigor. Opening with a nice pastoral pair of horns played by Deborah Crow and Jan Fish Lewis, the Brahms symphony was full of rich melodies and Viennese lilt. In the first movement, the violas and celli presented the third melody smoothly, with a well-handled transition to passages of clean wind and pizzicato strings. Brahms symphonies require a great deal of musical intensity and stamina, and tuning did start to fade a bit in the middle movements, but the orchestra came back to life in the closing Allegro, taking the con spirito marking to heart. Throughout the symphony, the winds were very solid, ranging from oboes and bassoons to flutists Judy Singleton and Alexander LissÊ, and clarinetists Daniel Beerbohm and Russ Labe. Ms. Singleton had a number of solo passages well played on the flute, joined by hornist Ms. Crow playing long Brahms melodies. he Westminster Community Orchestra gives local musicians a chance to spread their wings a bit as a musical reprieve from their other lives. The chance to perform with a classic performer like Ms. Lehrer no doubt made the afternoon that much more special. —Nancy Plum


The Westminster Community Orchestra’s next performance will be on March 17, 2013 at 3 p.m. at Richardson Auditorium. Featured will be music of Handel and Vaughan Williams, as well as concerto movements played by the winners of the Westminster Conservatory Piano Concerto Competition. Collaborating ensembles include the Westminster Conservatory Children’s Choir, Westminster Community Chorus, Princeton High School Freshman Women’s Chorus, and Princeton Charter School/Westminster Conservatory Youth Orchestra. For tickets call (609) 258-9220 or go to





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AFTERNOON CONCERTS Princeton University Chapel Thursdays, 12:30 – 1:00 Admission free

December 6 Thomas Purviance, pianist Ottsville, PA

P r i n c e to n

ArtWalk In P ri n c e y. ton, awa ar t is s p always just a few ste

Princeton’s vibrant visual arts scene opens itself to you, free of charge, at ten exciting venues. Drop by one or all ten and enjoy great art, activities, and refreshments.

Thursday | December 6 | 5–8 pm | Free to all Participating Venues Arts council of Princeton’s Paul robeson center Bernstein Gallery of the Woodrow Wilson School cranbury Station Gallery | Firestone Library Historical Society of Princeton Labyrinth Books | Lewis center for the Arts Morven Museum and Garden* Princeton Public Library Princeton University Art Museum Small World coffee *Morven Museum and Garden only offers free parking during this ArtWalk, but will return with ArtWalk programming in March 2013

For a map and more information please call 609-924-8777 or visit



Town Topics Newspaper  
Town Topics Newspaper  

Issue: December 5, 2012