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Symphony Hall Concert Leaves Musical Memories

03/28/13
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Chris O’Donnell ’92 narrated “A Lincoln Portrait” at Symphony Hall. (Photo by Gary Wayne Gilbert)

By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: Mar. 28, 2013

Boston College music lovers packed prestigious Symphony Hall on Saturday to hear four of the University’s student ensembles at a concert held as part of the BC Sesquicentennial celebration.

The University Chorale, Boston College Symphony Orchestra, BC bOp! and the University Wind Ensemble performed at the event, which featured a rendition by the Chorale and Symphony Orchestra of Aaron Copland’s “A Lincoln Portrait” that was narrated by actor Chris O’Donnell ’92.  

Student musicians felt fortunate to not only help mark a major in milestone in BC history, but also to do so in what is regarded as one of the finest concert venues in the world. Of course, the magnitude of the event did make for a few butterflies in a stomach or two, such as for University Wind Ensemble flutist Katelyn Jeffreys, a senior math major from North Massapequa, NY.

“In the hours leading up to going on stage, particularly while watching the Symphony Orchestra and Chorale perform, I was quite nervous,” she said. “It was important to our conductor [Sebastian Bonaiuto] and the Wind Ensemble as a whole that we perform the best quality music possible during such an important event for Boston College. However, once we were on stage playing the first few notes of 'Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,’ those nerves disappeared. At that point, it felt like just another performance.”

Even senior Patrick Andrea, a saxophonist with BC bOp! who had already played at Symphony Hall prior to Saturday’s concert, felt some pins and needles.

“I did not think I would be a big deal, but as it got closer to the time that we went on stage, I did get a little bit nervous,” said Andrea, an accounting and information systems major from Norfolk, Mass. “The crowd was probably one of the biggest that I have ever played in front of. Having the opportunity to play in front of such a big crowd in such a distinguished venue is something that I will never forget.”

In the end, Andrea and Jeffreys were able to appreciate both the magnitude and artistic dimensions of the event.  Andrea said he was moved when the audience stood up and began singing along to the Wind Ensemble’s playing of “For Boston.” Jeffreys recalled how one piece by the Wind Ensemble ended “with a lingering ring” in the hall: “Not only is that a rare sound to hear, but it is even rarer, and incredibly satisfying, to create it.”

John Finney, director of the University Chorale and Symphony Orchestra, got a special treat after the event, when University Chorale alumni threw him a surprise reception — complete with a group serenade of the Chorale’s signature piece “Tollite Hostias” — to mark Finney’s 20th year, as well as the Chorale’s 100th anniversary.