Young Violinist Haig Hovsepian Performs with Waltham Philharmonic


By David Salstein

WALTHAM, Mass. — Each fall, the Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra (WPO) hosts auditions as part of our youth concerto competition, in which students up to high school age play a solo they propose to perform with the orchestra at our Spring concert. This past season, violinist Haig Hovsepian from Belmont gave an excellent rendition of the Khachaturian concerto solo part to win the competition and play with the WPO.

The Spring Concert, “Asian Dreamscape,” conducted by Michael Korn, was already designed with a pan-Asian theme, in partial cooperation with the administration of Plympton School, whose curriculum this year features a school-wide study of Asia.  So the concerto now in the program, written by Aram Khachaturian fit in well with the rest of concert theme, as Armenia is located near the border region spanning both Europe and Asia.

Haig Hovsepian’s beautiful violin solo in the concerto, accompanied by the Waltham Philharmonic, was exciting and inspiring, demonstrating both his outstanding technique and musicality. We have no doubt that we will be hearing about great accomplishments in the future from Haig.  The emotional feel and poignancy of the concerto was even more meaningful because he dedicated the performance as a memorial to the victims of the Armenian Genocide, one century ago.

Hovsepian is a sophomore at Belmont High School and is a member of the Wind Ensemble and the Jazz Band, playing saxophone.  He also attends New England Conservatory (NEC) Preparatory School studying violin with Kyoko Takayama. At NEC he plays with chamber groups and is a member of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (YPO) playing in the first violin section.  At the end of this school year, Haig will be traveling with YPO for concert performances in three cities in Iceland.

The program opened with the orchestra playing Borodin’s On the Steppes of Central Asia, featuring music inspired from both Russian and central Asian sources.   In addition, the orchestra played the Cantonese Suite written by a modern Chinese composer Xiaogang Ye, in which the musical output of the western instruments were transformed into an eastern palette of sounds, in sections representing four aspects of nature.

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Then master soloist, Zhantao Lin, captivated the audience with his stunning exotic sounds on the erhu, a traditional two-stringed Chinese instrument, in both the Charge of the War Horses, by Chen Yao Xing, accompanied by the WPO, and in another solo piece.  Zhantao Lin, was a professor of music in his native China, and since emigrating to the United States, has performed extensively in New England

A Song for Japan by Steven Verheist, composed as a tribute to those affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in eastern Japan, was performed by wind instruments of the orchestra.

The Plympton School chorus, under the direction of teacher Gina DePaoli presented a traditional Korean folk song, Arirang, which is so well known in Korea, it functions almost an unofficial national anthem. The students researched all the musical pieces on the program, introducing each selection before it was performed.

Overall, it was thematically an ambitious concert to plan and execute, featuring orchestral works with two wonderful soloists and the participation of community students.  All this would have not been possible if it were not for the extraordinary leadership of Maestro Korn, a versatile musician of many talents: director, solo and chamber violinist, community leader and educator with a vast experience. He took both the orchestra and the concert audience on this musical “dreamscape” with a deep professional wisdom and finesse that magically transformed the dream into reality of a very successful final concert of the season.

The audience greeted the performers with standing ovations, and it was apparent that Waltham Philharmonic not only has a very strong leadership, but an equally strong and faithful following. This is no surprise given its members’ dedication and love for music. It is truly the enthusiasm of the WPO members that makes sustaining the classical values possible throughout the communities, such as Waltham. No wonder Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy showed her continuous support by her presence and cheering the musicians at the concert.

The Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra will start its 30th season in the fall.

( David Salstein is the WPO executive director.)


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