Rustin Orchestra Students Learn From Members of the Philadelphia Orchestra

Rustin Orchestra Students Learn From Members of the Philadelphia Orchestra

The Rustin High School Orchestra with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra

Members of the Rustin High School Orchestra recently had the opportunity to work side by side with members of the world-famous Philadelphia Orchestra.

The young string students spent part of their school day collaborating with the quartet, learning new rehearsal skills and techniques to advance not only their own performance abilities but the orchestra as a whole. They also gained valuable insight into pursuing a career in music.

The quartet, featuring violinists Daniel Han, Yayoi Numazawa, violist David Nicastro, and cellist Priscilla Lee also performed for the group and shared their personal journies to becoming professional musicians.

Students agreed that one of the biggest takeaways from the workshop was the importance of listening to each other during their performances to produce the best sound.

"Especially when you are playing with a soloist, just listen as much as possible for what the soloist is doing," offered David Nicastro, who has played with the Philadelphia Orchestra for the last 25 years. "It's basically a form of multitasking. You have to do what's on your page, but at the same time, pay attention to what is happening up front and then support that in the most musical way that you can."

"I thought that was really helpful advice to hear," said 11th-grader Ryan Murnane, who was the featured soloist on one of the selections the orchestra performed during the workshop. Ryan has played the bass since third grade.

The Rustin Orchestra performed a couple of pieces for their guests that they have been working on since February. Many of the students were surprised to learn that the Philadelphia Orchestra performs a new program weekly, with only three practice sessions and a dress rehearsal prior to the performance.

"We have multiple months to prepare. I can't imagine putting on a concert in just one week," said concertmaster Nicholas Hsieh, a junior.

All four of the professional musicians stressed the importance of practicing at home.

Hsieh, who has played the violin since the age of five, said he practices, on average, an hour a day.

Liz Shafman, Rustin's orchestra director, said the professional musicians really made an impact on her students. She plans on taking her students to Kimmel Center soon to watch the Orchestra rehearse.

"The workshop provided the Rustin Orchestra students with an opportunity to make connections and apply their musical knowledge at an advanced and professional level," said Shafman. "It left us all feeling inspired and ready to expand on the music we create every day in the classroom."

The Philadelphia Orchestra Master Class was made possible thanks to a grant from the West Chester Area Education Foundation.