At the conclusion of last season, The Westchester Philharmonic knew that its founding artistic director would be stepping down. In the search for a successor, they approached world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman. “We thought he might be interested and he was,” says the philharmonic’s executive director Joshua Worby. With its July concert approaching, it might then be a bit of a disappointment to learn that Mr. Perlman won’t be leading the orchestra, but Mr. Worby assures potential attendees that the new artistic director’s presence still pervades whether he’s there or not.
“It’s nothing short of pure inspiration,” says Mr. Worby of the impact on the musicians and the organization as a whole. So in that regard, George Manahan, who has conducted throughout the world, will lead the philharmonic in a concert entitled, “Modern Summer.”
The pieces are all works of the 20th Century in which the composers burrowed from the past to bring it in the contemporary. “In each case, the composer looked to a musical heritage of an earlier time and used that as his inspiration,” says Mr. Worby.
In hopes of providing some added insight behind these challenging works, the evening and Maestro Manahan are offering a little something extra prior to putting the percussion and all into practice. “Because all these works have a compelling and interesting story behind them, we will open it up to an audience Q & A,” says Mr. Worby, who will serve as moderator.
Then putting it into the hands of the players, their professionalism and proficiency will be hard to overlook. “You’ve probably heard of the New York Philharmonic and other famous symphonies like the Boston Symphony of the Chicago Symphony, but the Westchester Philharmonic is becoming known because it is in fact a world class orchestra, he says.
Out and about as freelancers, playing The Metropolitan Opera, The New York City Ballet and other impressive venues, the validation runs back and forth between them and their famous artistic director. “How did we get Itzhak Perlman, well he was well aware of the reputation of these musicians and he knew he would be leading an orchestra that is nothing less than a group of virtuosos in their own right,” says Mr. Worby.
And the mutually conducive arrangement has had an economic impact when it was most needed. “His presence onstage is obviously a great draw, and it has revitalized an orchestra that was a few short years ago teetering financially,” he says.
Behind the scenes, things have changed too. In what might seem to be the boring bowels that administration could be, “We are managing an organization that suddenly has this real shot of adrenalin going for it,” says Mr. Worby, and that makes it both more exciting and more challenging, he adds.
Finally, for those only wedded to seeing Mr. Perlman, he will be back for the finale later this year, but Mr. Worby recommends against that much foresight. With Mr. Manahan’s proven artistry, he says, “this is a chance to hear this orchestra perform a repertoire that they will seldom ever get.”
Rich Monetti interview of Joshua Worby