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West Hartford Symphony Orchestra Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

"Favorite Movements/Favorite Moments" featured during Sunday's celebration concert.

(WHSO) presented its “Tenth Anniversary Celebration Concert” this past Sunday, Jan. 22, at the Roberts Theater on the campus of . This program was originally scheduled for October 30 but was postponed due to the snowstorm.

The concert started at 3 p.m. with a speech by West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka, who reminisced about the conception of the WHSO on evening 10 years ago, during a discussion at by Jim Kilian (who became the board of director’s first president) and music director Richard Chiarappa. The mayor also read two proclamations, one from the Town of West Hartford and one from the State of Connecticut, honoring the WHSO on the occasion of its 10th anniversary season.

The program’s theme “favorite movements/favorite moments” represents the most popular requests by our audience from past seasons, including Alexander Borodin’s “Symphony No. 2 in B minor,” Antonin Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 8,” Hartford resident Albert Hurwit’s “Symphony No. 1,” and Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia.”

Returning to the WHSO was tenor David Baker (a former student of Chiarappa), singing “Una Furtiva Lagrima” from Donizetti’s Elixir of Love.

Choruses from Kingswood Oxford School and backed up the WHSO in “The Road Not Taken” from Frostiana (by Randall Thompson), and “Dry Your Tears, Afrika” (by John Williams) from Amistad.

Hurwit’s “Symphony No. 1,” featuring Remembrance, was premiered by the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra in 2007 and remains one of its most beloved performances. Before the performance, Albert Hurwit (introduced by CPTV president Jerry Franklin), told a rapt audience the story of his family’s flight to America from persecution in 19th-century Russia, and how it inspired him to write his symphony.

“As I was composing [Movement III],” Hurwit said, “... I felt perhaps I could get an even better inspiration if I juxtaposed myself into the position of one of the family elders, and in this circumstance I would have to say to my three children and their spouses and my six grandchildren that you must go. One does not have to be a composer or an artist to feel the wrenching of the heart with that.”

Sunny Side Up Films, a film production and distribution company, recorded the afternoon’s performance for a PBS documentary.

Symphony No. 1: Remembrance is available for purchase in both CD and MP3 formats at http://alberthurwit.com/. Pictures and videos from the Celebration Concert may be viewed at www.whso.org and on Facebook.

The West Hartford Symphony Orchestra collected non-perishable food and personal hygiene items on behalf of the West Hartford Food Pantry as part of its mission of giving back to a community that is so generously supportive.

This concert was sponsored by Dr. David Geetter and the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network.

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