Camerata Chicago Senior Academy and 2021 New Music School Concerto Competition

March 27, 2021, 11:00 am

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Camerata Chicago Senior Academy at St. John Church, Wheaton, December 18 2020.

This week, two different music schools. The Camerata Chicago Academy is based in Wheaton, and their Senior Academy rehearsed and recorded their winter chamber orchestra concert in a socially distant manner. We also hear from the top two place-getters at the recent annual concerto competition from Chicago’s New Music School: Zarin Mehta playing Beethoven and Sami Gershenhorn playing Gershwin.

Camerata Chicago Senior Academy Orchestra
Patience Smith, 17, violinist in the Camerata Chicago Senior Academy Orchestra

Patience Smith, 17, violinist in the Camerata Chicago Senior Academy Orchestra.

Founded by Drostan Hall in 2014, the Camerata Chicago Senior Academy is a chamber orchestra comprised of 12 to 16 advanced pre-college students. The Academy program operates under the auspices of its parent organization, the professional chamber orchestra Camerata Chicago.

The orchestra chooses its music carefully to represent many periods in classical music. It combines three different rehearsal formats: sectional work, quartet work, and tutti. In quartet work, a professional musician joins student players to play in the quartet, providing a valuable opportunity for young players to play high-quality chamber music.

Due to the pandemic the Academy’s regular rehearsal space in a local church was no longer available. Rehearsals initially started in Music Director Drostan Hall’s garage and basement, but tutti work was impossible until a local Camerata Chicago board member offered the use of their house, which was under construction.

This winter concert was recorded at St. John Lutheran Church in Wheaton in December 2020. Violinist Patience Smith appears in an interview to talk about how.

2021 New Music School Concerto Competition

The New Music School on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile held its annual Concerto Competition without orchestra this year – each soloist worked with a single accompanist instead. The finals were held on January 31, 2021. First place went to 12-year-old Sami Gershenhorn, who played George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and second place went to 13-year-old Zarin Mehta for his performance of the first movement of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto. Both Zarin and Sami have recently given solo recitals on Introductions, in November 2020 and December 2020 respectively.


Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat, Op. 73, Emperor:
I. Allegro

Zarin Mehta, solo piano; Jeffrey Panko, accompaniment piano

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony No. 15 in G, K. 124
I. Allegro
IV. Presto

Pietro Mascagni: Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana

Dmitri Shostakovich: Suite for Variety Orchestra:
VII. Waltz No. 2

Camerata Chicago Senior Academy; Drostan Hall, conductor

George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue

Sami Gershenhorn, solo piano; Dana Brown, accompaniment piano

Some music is excluded from the podcast for copyright reasons.