We Will Me(e)t Again

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” – Plato


“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” – Plato

Emily-Jane Luo

On June 8th, 2020, Mr. Amédée Williams, the orchestra director at SHS, hosted an orchestra webinar masterclass provided by four members of the MET orchestra. Four SHS violinists were asked to perform for this event. It presented a great opportunity for Scarsdale high school students to work with some of the best violinists in New York. 

“Music represents the history of human emotion. We use it to express how we feel. Expressing yourself and letting other people know how you feel can be wonderful therapy during times of crisis,” stated Mr. Williams. 

Music is universal; no human culture exists without it. Music heals and comforts, especially in the darkest time. It connects us in moments of isolation. As cities all over the world have shut down to curb the spread of the coronavirus, batches of videos emerged on the internet: Italians singing to one another from their balconies, policemen in Spain playing guitar while on patrol, and civilians in NYC singing along to The Beatles’ from their windows. 

Music is not lost on us at SHS either. 

During the orchestra virtual masterclass, busy notes were played and beautiful melodies of many layers and tones were shared. Amy Kauffman and Wen Qian, first violinists from the MET, coached and offered advice on how to shift positions quickly and precisely in one motion, how to hold hand shapes steady, and how to keep fingers close to the strings at all times. It is interesting to see how different instruments use the same skills: to play piano professionally, one also needs full steady control of the shape and touch of the fingers. 

The musicians named a few exercises that were designed to perfect the quickness of the fingers and the clarity of the chords. This information was, as collectively commented by those who watched the masterclass, beneficial to all musicians. Bruce Eicher, the assistant concertmaster, explained and showcased the importance of varying the tone and adding intensity to each phrase. 

“The highlight was definitely listening to the insight from the MET orchestra members. Their tips and tricks allow me to rethink my practicing methods and help me better understand the art of classical music,” said Andre Tsou ’23. 

Mr. Williams states that his reasons for having the MET Opera masterclass is to “bring awareness to [their] current problem, as their current concert season has been canceled, and all performing arts ensembles that are facing the same situation.” 

Since the COVID-19 lockdown, cultural institutions and concert venues remain closed. Among the vast number of those who have lost their livelihoods amidst the pandemic are millions of artists and musicians. 

Metropolitan Opera has been closed since March 12, and won’t reopen the doors until December 31, 2020. On April 1st, the MET Opera furloughed all its union employees including musicians, chorus members, and other trades. Their artists are facing an uncertain future. Despite this, the MET’s enterprising and capability for creativity has been one of the most determined, offering free streaming video recordings of live performances. Even with the house dark, the audience remains large and global. 

“What makes this crisis so difficult for so many is that the performing arts are unable to perform live. Yes – there are lots of youtube/ streaming events, but it is really just not the same. For me music provides an escape like no other”, expressed Mr. Williams.

The virtual masterclass is an enjoyment and enlightenment to watch and listen to, while the group of SHS orchestra students takes in the experience and knowledge of the musicians. Seeing the musicians strive to keep their level of excellence and stay deeply hopeful in the hard times is immensely inspiring. The class is looking forward to welcoming and supporting MET to come back to the stage at Lincoln Center at the end of this year.