By Kurt Loft
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Fresh new faces add harmony
to The Florida Orchestra
. . .
The Florida Orchestra recently took a big step into its future by welcoming a rank of new musicians to their first full season with the state’s largest performing arts organization.
All of these young artists won highly competitive blind auditions that attracted candidates from around the world for full-time positions under the leadership of music director Michael Francis.
We caught up with some in the group, and asked about the excitement of their new jobs, what they hope to communicate to listeners, and how they feel about the future of classical music. Their responses have been edited for clarity.
Yefim Romanov, first assistant concertmaster violinist. A native of Kazakhstan, he holds degrees from Yale University, Indiana University and University of Florida.
“What I want to communicate to the audience is that coming to orchestral concerts can be joyous, fun and soul cleansing.
“I feel like classical music is always a staple of any city or culture. No matter how far we move into a modern age, classical music goes with us and lives on. I think as long as musicians stay innovative, classical music will be here for long time.”
Natalie Yu, assistant principal second violin. She made her solo debut at age 11 with the Oregon Symphony in 2005, and holds a master’s of music from Rice University and a bachelor’s of music from Colburn Conservatory of Music.
“For me, music making is an opportunity to connect on a deeper emotional level of storytelling non-verbally. It’s a joy to make music together on a professional level.
“In my opinion, the future of classical music is determined by those who make it and I’m excited to be a part of it.’’
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Ansel Norris, associate principal/utility trumpet. A native of Madison WI, he is the first-ever American prizewinner in the International Tchaikovsky Competition’s Brass division. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University.
“Much of the music we play is hundreds of years old, but classical music is a living art form.
“We are exploring complex expressions of the human experience that require deep personal contemplation and a lifetime of work to illuminate. It is a worthy task that contributes to the cultivation of peace for our complicated species. I’m honored to be a part of this tradition.’’
. . .
Chi Lee, associate principal viola. A native of Taiwan, she received her bachelor’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music and a master’s from Rice University. She is a doctor of musical arts candidate at the University of Maryland.
“Orchestras are formed by people that come from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences. We give the best part of ourselves in the rehearsals to make wonderful music together and I believe it has the power to be with us in our best and darkest times.
“Of course we don’t know what the future holds, but orchestras will always be a force to bring people and the community together to celebrate life.’’
. . .
Sebastian Stefanovic, violist. The Baltimore native earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Rice University’s Shepherd School.
“I was lucky enough to be born into a musical family and raised inside my hometown orchestra, where my father played violin, and teachers, mentors, surrogate aunts and uncles, childhood friends all came from the community that existed around the organization.
“Predicting the future of music feels to me like I’m setting up a punchline while knowing time will have the last laugh. Ever since the rapid globalization and new technology of the last century exploded music into a huge delta of diverse styles and idioms, it’s been much more difficult to point towards sweeping historical trends and identifiable artistic movements.
“I may not know where the future of our art lies, but one thing I hope we don’t lose sight of is the primacy and importance of seeing the creative process in living artists.’’
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You can see and hear these young artists
in upcoming performances by
The Florida Orchestra – floridaorchestra.org