Meet Nanci Belmont, Bassoon

We're excited to feature our Principal Bassoonist Nanci Belmont on our upcoming Spotlight Series concert! We asked Nanci a few questions about her musical life and how she came to play the bassoon.  

Ariel: Where did your love of music come from? Are their any other musicians or artists in your family?

Nanci Belmont

Nanci Belmont

Nanci: No one in my family is even close to being a musician or artist. My dad owns his own tile construction business and my mom is a secretary. When I was really young, I just really loved singing and was involved in a few musicals/choirs here and there. I didn't really know anything about musical instruments.

What first inspired you to play the bassoon?

It's not a crazy or profound story.... I joined band in 6th grade because my best friend was doing it (and we wanted to have some classes together). My band director was this wonderful woman who let us try all of the instruments at the beginning of the school year, let us choose our top 3 favorites, and then she would pick what we got to play. I was apparently the only one in the entire 6th grade who put bassoon down on their list! (I did have it as number 1, mostly because I thought it looked really cool, and was told that you could hear it in the Disney movie Fantasia)

What is your favorite part of being a musician and what made you want to pursue it professionally?

I think my favorite part of being a musician is the lifelong learning that takes place. Being involved in music means that there is always something to improve upon, or someone new to learn from. I love knowing that I'll be a different (and hopefully better) musician in a few years time than I am now. I pursued the career professionally, mostly for the love of it, and the idea of getting to do something fun for a living. Not having any musicians in my family, I didn't know what a career in music would look like or the crazy amount of work that would go in to developing the career, but I'm very glad I pursued it!

Do you have a favorite piece or composer?

I can't say I have one favorite piece or composer, but I definitely have my favorites. Beethoven and Stravinsky are definitely at the top of my composer list, their music (and particularly their bassoon writing) is so fantastic.

What do you love about Washington Heights?

There is so much green space! I live pretty close to Bennett park, Ft Tryon is not that far away, and the Riverside bike path is extremely accessible. I love to go running and read outside (when the weather is agreeable) so I was really grateful for all of these spaces when I moved up here.

Is there anything that you would like the audience to know about the program for your upcoming recital?

Prepare to hear a different side of the bassoon than you may be used to! I developed this program with the lyrical side of the bassoon in mind, which is in contrast to the "clown of the orchestra" reputation that the bassoon often has. The three pieces on my program represent lyricism from three vastly different time periods and geographical locations, and are some of my very favorite works to perform.

 

You can hear Nanci this coming Saturday at 3pm on our Spolight Series!  

CHECK OUT OUR EVENT PAGE HERE.  HOPE TO SEE YOU ON THE 22ND!

 

By Ariel Kurtz, Social Media Manager  
Contact Ariel

8 questions with Alexandros Petrin, Violin

Alexandros Petrin is performing on our 3rd Spotlight concert this year along with our Principal Bassoonist, Nanci Belmont. You can hear him on Saturday, April 22nd at 3:00pm at Fort Washington Collegiate Church. 

Ariel: Where did your love of music come from? Are their any other musicians or artists in your family? 

Alex: I was born into a musical family so it was natural for me to grow in a musical environment. My parents are pianists and from a very early age I was surrounded by sounds. Often they would teach their students at home and since my mom is in the chamber music faculty at the Conservatory I was fortunate to hear other instruments as well. I think that's where my love for music came from and what made my brother also choose a musician's life. My parents and brother are the reason I am here and have grown to what I am today.

What is your favorite part of being a musician and what made you want to pursue it professionally?

With the passing of years my concept of music has changed and it's something that will keep evolving in the years to come. One phrase that I keep in me forever is my father's saying "Music is between the notes." My favorite part of being a musician is to spend a lot of time with a piece and to be able to say something meaningful through my interpretation. No matter how long the piece of music is, I have to be able to grasp it and present it in such a way to the audience that it will create that special connection between us. And that's what I cherish the most about being a musician. 

Do you have a favorite piece or composer?

There is music I come back to and I definitely have all-time classics that will never fall off the shelf of favorites! But it really depends on the time period I am in. As Yuri Temirkanov once said: 'My favorite composer is the one I am playing at the moment', and that is true because one has to give himself totally to the music he plays at the moment. In the first three weeks of April, my mind and heart are focused on the upcoming WHCO recital where I have chosen pieces that I really want to share with the audience; therefore they are my favorites!

Well, is there a piece of music particularly fascinates you? 

At the moment, Kevin Puts's "Millennium Canons". To me, it is freedom; it makes you want to live life to the fullest.  (You can here a recording of Put's piece here!)

What advice would you give to aspiring young musicians?

Work hard and be open minded.
Listen and learn from your mistakes. 
Don't compromise.  

Is there anything that you would like the audience to know about the program for your upcoming recital?

The first piece in the program is by Washington Heights-based composer Kim Sherman. 'Invocation' is a beautiful piece for soprano, solo violin and string quartet. The quartet consists of Ani Bukujian, Michael Eby, Daniel Lamas and Kate Dillingham and Stephanie Leotsakos will be our soprano. The second piece is by my teacher and mentor David Noon who wrote the challenging 'Cadenza Variations' in memoriam of Pierre Boulez so I took the initiative to be the first to perform it. Copland's 'Two pieces for Violin and Piano' is undoubtedly the center of this recital;  and Kevin Puts's Aria can be summarized in one word: magic. I will be performing both pieces with the talented pianist Semra Amiraslan. The last two pieces in the program, Estrellita by Manuel Ponce and Besame Mucho by Consuelo Velasquez are the icing on the cake! Joined by soprano Nicolette Mavroleon and my parents Igor and Eirini, I hope that these songs will particularly speak to the Hispanic population of Washington Heights. 

Last but not least, I would like to thank the Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra for allowing me to perform on their season and I hope that I will see many faces at Fort Washington Collegiate Church on April 22nd at 3pm!

Check out our event page here.  Hope to see you on the 22nd!

 

By Ariel Kurtz, Social Media Manager  
Contact Ariel

Announcing the Winner of our First Annual Young Artists Competition

This year's winner: Violinist Coco Mi

This year's winner: Violinist Coco Mi

Monday, January 23, 2017 - New York, NY
Upon finishing a very competitive and engaging final round concert this past Saturday the 21st, we're delighted to announce that sixteen year-old violinist Coco Mi from Princeton, NJ has been selected the winner of our First Annual Young Artists Competition in partnership with Florian Leonhard Fine Violins!

Ms. Mi will receive a $1,000k scholarship and perform as the featured soloist on our May 20, 2017 concert.  Additionally, Florian Leonhard will loan her a fine instrument for use in her performance with the WHCO. Ms. Mi attends the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College Program where she studies with Elizabeth Faidley and is the recipient of the Carl Owen Memorial Scholarship. She has performed in masterclasses with well-known violinists such as Sarah Chang, Ray Chen, and Jennifer Koh, among others.  When not playing the violin, Coco is a junior at Princeton High School in Princeton, NJ. She is also the leader of a community service program “Music Therapy” which focuses on doing musical activities with special needs students at her school.

From left: Samuel Rhodes, Philip Lasser, Anna Rabinova, Chris Whittaker

From left: Samuel Rhodes, Philip Lasser, Anna Rabinova, Chris Whittaker

We also congratulate our runners-up: 
2nd Prize: Chelsea Xia, Violin, 14, New York, NY, (receives $500 scholarship) 
3rd Prize: Alexandra Woroniecka, Violin, 14, Stony Brook, NY (receives $250 scholarship)
Audience Vote/Honorable Mention: Alexander Rohatyn, Cello, 17, New York, NY

The year the competition was open to violinists, violists, and cellists who either reside or pursue musical studies in the New York metropolitan area.  Our finalists were selected through blind pre-screening and semi-final rounds adjudicated by members of the WHCO. The judging panel at the final round included Mr. Samuel Rhodes (The Juilliard String Quartet); Ms. Anna Rabinova (New York Philharmonic); and Dr. Philip Lasser (The Juilliard School/European American Musical Alliance).

We are grateful to our competition sponsor, Florian Leonhard Fine Violins. for their support of our very first young artists competition.

And we thank all of our outstanding finalists who played a beautiful concert on Saturday evening.  We wish each of our participants the very best as they continue to passionately pursue their musical studies.  

Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra
info@washingtonheightsorchestra.org

Group bow from our finalists and judges.  Bravi tutti!

Group bow from our finalists and judges.  Bravi tutti!