Region’s 1st training orchestra to debut this fallBy Jay Turner
It isn’t often that a professional symphony orchestra finds its way to the suburbs, but that has been the case in the Neponset Valley since 2007 and will continue this fall with the debut of Symphony Nova, a 65-member training orchestra featuring some of the region’s finest post-collegiate professional musicians.
Formerly known as the Neponset Valley Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphony Nova will instantly become New England’s first and only training orchestra — and one of only four in the country — when it debuts with “Soloist, Soloist” on Friday, September 28, at the Old South Church in Boston, followed by a repeat performance on Sunday, September 30, at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham.
The inaugural season of the revamped symphony will consist of four orchestral concerts, all with a different soloist, performed once in downtown Boston and once in the Neponset Valley.
King Philip will serve as host of the first, third and fourth concerts, but the second concert, “Stringsational,” will be performed at Canton High School on Sunday, November 18. The program will feature violin soloist Julia Hunter and viola soloist Xi Zhang playing Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante. Also on the program are Last Round by Grammy award-winning composer Osvaldo Golijov and Symphony No. 4 by Beethoven.
“People in Canton will have this amazing opportunity to just drive down the block and hear a top, top orchestra,” noted Lawrence Isaacson, Symphony Nova’s conductor and musical director.
Isaacson, who founded the Neponset Valley Philharmonic in 2007, described the formation of Symphony Nova as a lifelong dream of his, as well as a “natural blending” of his skills as both an educator and a performer. He has taught for more than 25 years at some of the region’s finest music schools, and he currently serves as the assistant director of the music division at the Boston Conservatory.
Like many of the performers in his orchestra, Isaacson flashed his musical talent at a young age, performing as a trombonist with the Chicago Symphony at the age of 19 and then later as a member of the Empire Brass Quintet, the San Francisco Symphony, and the Boston Pops. He has also had numerous performances with the Boston Symphony, Boston Symphony Chamber Players, Detroit Symphony, and San Diego Symphony.
Isaacson said he envisions a similar career path for many of Symphony Nova’s musicians, most of whom have already earned a master’s degree from one of the area’s “internationally acclaimed music schools.”
“The quality is so high,” he said of the symphony’s performers. “These are people at the top of their game trying to get to the next level.”
Not only will they be paid to perform, but they will also have access to a variety of programs not typically offered by standard professional orchestras, including courses on grant writing and personal finance, mock auditions, and the creation and performance of educational concerts.
The symphony’s ultimate goal, according to Isaacson, is to help “build a pipeline of young, experienced, professional musicians” that will contribute to the musical community in Boston while offering an educational and cultural activity to the surrounding cities and towns.
Isaacson said he is also fortunate to have an active and committed board that is helping to execute this expanded vision. The current board is headed by Susan Epstein and consists of ten members, including three from Canton: Susan McCarthy, the symphony’s treasurer, Sherry Alpert, and Lawrence Finklestone.
“This is a major change and growth of a small organization that’s still staying in the Neponset Valley and now doing a parallel program in Boston,” said Alpert, who praised Isaacson as an “amazing leader.”
Alpert, who fell in love with classical music as a young girl and has gone to Tanglewood every summer since 1974, is thrilled to have a symphony in “[her] own backyard.”
A board member for the past few years, Alpert said the concerts put on by the Neponset Valley Philharmonic in past seasons were “phenomenal,” and she has even greater expectations for the opening season of Symphony Nova.
In the meantime, Alpert and her fellow board members are doing their best to promote the symphony while also soliciting donations and corporate sponsors.
“We’re trying very hard to raise money,” she said. “That’s our number-one challenge right now.”
Alpert said anyone who would like to donate or become a sponsor can do so by visiting the “support” page at www.symphonynova.org. She also encouraged residents who would like to join the symphony board to email her at email@example.com.
Tickets for all four concerts can be ordered on the website, and Alpert recommends a season subscription (three or more concerts) for those who are seeking the best value. Either way, she is certain that concert-goers will not be disappointed.
“I’ve brought many of my friends to these concerts and everybody just loves them,” she said. “You feel transported; it’s incredible to have an orchestra of this caliber right here in the Neponset Valley.”
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