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Carnegie Mellon at Carnegie Hall

Rachel Ordaz (A'11)

It was a whirlwind week for the student musicians of the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic, one that echoed the age-old question "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?"

Everyone knows the answer: Practice. In this case, just five rehearsals' worth as an entire ensemble with world-renowned conductor and School of Music alumnus Keith Lockhart.

Sophomore Rachel Ordaz, a flutist, described the days leading up to the Jan. 30 performance as nerve-wracking, thrilling and fantastic.

"Preparing for this concert gave us a glimpse into the future of our musical careers," Ordaz said. "The frenetic schedule is the nature of the profession. To put in a massive amount of work with limited time for preparation is the mark of a true professional musician."

One such professional was featured in the evening's program: violinist Andrés Cárdenes, Dorothy Richard Starling & Alexander Speyer Jr. University Professor of Violin at Carnegie Mellon, whose dramatic solo in Lalo's "Symphonie espagnole" had actually served as a lesson of sorts in ensemble accompaniment during those rehearsal hours.

It goes without saying that playing before a large audience in one of the world's best concert halls is a stressful proposition; what added another dimension to this was the fact that composer Gabriela Lena Frank, whose "Three Dances for Orchestra" opened the program, was sitting in the audience.

The experience was part of Carnegie Mellon's "CFA Days," a recent trip to New York City showcasing College of Fine Arts alumni at the top of the arts scene.

The week kicked off with a tour of Philip Pearlstein's studio. A leading realist painter, Pearlstein (A'49, H'83) befriended fellow alumnus Andy Warhol at Carnegie Mellon. Pearlstein's work is featured in an exhibit at the Montclair Art Museum.

Other highlights included an architectural tour of the New York Times building and a behind-the-scence look at "South Pacific" — led by Charlie Brady (A'01) and Robert Lenzi (A'08) who are performing in the Broadway hit. Branding expert and former Carnegie Mellon faculty Alan Siegel also treated attendees to a talk at the Museum of Arts and Design.

Photo: Rachel Ordaz (A'11).

Related Links: College of Fine Arts  |  School of Music

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