Dr. Yi Li Lin will bring classical music to life on March 19 as the Hudson Symphony Orchestra makes its maiden voyage. And right out of the gate, it's a worldwide effort, with proceeds from the performance going for tsunami relief, with "An Afternoon of Peace and Joy."
"I was watching TV about the tsunami and I felt bad," said Lin. "I wanted to do something about it. As a musician, the best thing I can think of to do is music."
The next day, Byron Singleton, a teacher at the Hoboken School of Music where Lin is director, suggested doing a fundraiser, confident that he could find other musicians and teachers to donate their time.
"It was like the answer to my prayers," Lin said.
Lin viewed this synchronicity of thought as a sign and proceeded to make plans.
Visitors will be treated to Ode to Joy, from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, and the world premiere of Eric Ewazen's Clarinet Concerto for String Orchestra. Ewazen himself will be a featured soloist at the show.
Ewazen said Thursday that he is honored to dedicate the debut his Clarinet Concerto for String Orchestra to the tsunami victims.
"I have noticed so often that when tragedies strike, it's the arts and music than can provide healing and comfort," said Ewazen, who is a teacher at Julliard. "As a teacher of theory and music history, we always talk about the arts being a mirror of the times - good and bad. The arts comment on the times and react to the times."
He said after Sept. 11, he began inviting top free-lance musicians to give informal concerts at St. Paul's Church in lower Manhattan for all of the workers dealing with the wreckage.
"Having witnessed one of those concerts, I could see how much the workers appreciated that bit of beauty in the midst of all that they were dealing with," Ewazen said. "So now with a concert devoted to the Tsunami relief, I am proud to be part of an event to help people - to use my craft for some good, and at the same time to bring some beauty to the times which can often be so confusing."
Ewazen said his music is influenced by his Eastern European roots (Ukrainian/Polish). He is a second generation American, but his father used to do all the traditional Ukrainian dances, and he grew up listening to folk music. "There are passages in my piece which reflect the influence of that sound world, the harmonies and energetic rhythms," he said.
He said that he is also extremely fond of the music of the Impressionist composers, which has also influenced his work.
The piece will be played by Clarinetist Igor Begelman, an internationally awarding performer. He's in his fifth season as a Piatigorsky Foundation, and winner of the 2000 Houston Avery Fisher Grant.
Other soloists for Ode to Joy include soprano Heather Petruzelli, alto Tracy Kaufman, Tenor and organizer Byron Singer, and world renowned opera star Abraham Lind Oquendo. Lind Oquendo is known as a pioneer in the world of opera, becoming a star at a time when darker-skinned Hispanic singers were not welcome in the field.
One of a kind in the county
The Hudson County Orchestra is Hudson County's first orchestral ensemble since two previous attempts, Hoboken Chamber Orchestra and Elysian Symphony, stopped playing more than 10 years ago.
Lin first became aware of Hudson County, and its lack of orchestral music in October of 2003. A graduate of Julliard, Lin's choice of instrument is clarinet which she performed and taught for years. She also plays piano. Opening up her own school had been a goal of hers, and she saw Hudson County as a fertile ground.
"I always wanted to have my own school because I know I could set up the environment that would allow students to be nurtured the best," Lin said. "I was in the position to do it and I finally got the courage."
As Lin built up the school, located at 720 Monroe St., she became aware of an interest in restarting a symphony orchestra. About 50 people will perform in the benefit, all volunteering their time.
Tickets are $25. The performances are March 19 at 8 p.m. in the Hoboken High School Auditorium; April 3 at 2:30 p.m. in the Bayonne Public Library; and May 15 at 3 p.m. at the NJCU Margaret Williams Theater in Jersey City. All proceeds will go to tsunami relief.