By EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH
World-renown tenor, José Carreras, made one stop in the United States this weekend to perform with the 75 members of the UMW Philharmonic.The singer and orchestra performed at the Anderson Center on Saturday night, playing 18 songs. Carreras performed in 11 of the songs, sharing the stage with the orchestra and Irish Soprano Celine Byrne.
According to Kevin Bartram, director of the orchestra at UMW Philharmonic, getting Carreras to come to the university was not an easy task.
The whole process took over two years to coordinate; several months to find Carreras’ management company and then another year to negotiate with Carreras to return to the United States.
For Carreras, it was the first time returning to the United States in more than a decade, according to Bartram.
Carreras was one of three members in the operatic group “The Three Tenors,” which began in 1990. The recording from their debut concert has since become the best-selling classical album of all time.
The 30 members of the Philharmonic who are UMW students, according to Bartram, are not music majors, but simply enjoy music and want to be involved in its creation.
“They have to rise to the occasion,” Bartram said, as it has on multiple occasions. For, in the spring of 2014, the UMW Philharmonic performed with legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman. Bartram was particularly impressed with the orchestra for this performance, which also received praise from Carreras. The show, was difficult and high-pressured.
“It wasn’t an easy show to pull off,” Bartram said. “There was a lot of numbers and the orchestra really shined.”
Freshman Elyse Ridder was one of those students, playing Violin II in the orchestra during the performance.
Ridder has played the violin for 13 years and has been a member of the UMW Philharmonic for two years. She said she only heard Carreras briefly before the performance, yet had a great experience with Carreras and Bryne, even with the anxiety that came with the show and rehearsals.
“I felt lots of nerves, and some anxiety,” Ridder said. “It is a big deal backing up two world famous opera singers. One small mess up could really affect the entire production. After the performance, though, there was nothing but praise and excitement and I knew we accomplishment our goal and overcame our fear.”
When Carreras came to the United States, the orchestra performed four rehearsals together, an unusual amount of rehearsals for a guest performer, according to Bartram. “He wanted to experience small town America,” Bartram said. “Been to New York and Los Angeles, but he wanted to experience real America with real Americans.”
According to Bartram, the UMW Philharmonic started rehearsing this week for their POPs Christmas performance, beginning Dec. 3, wasting no time in between Carreras’ performance and the Christmas shows.
In addition, the UMW Philharmonic will be hosting a second celebrated artist in the spring of 2016, Joshua Bell, who will be performing with the Philharmonic on Saturday, March 26. Bell has performed for President Obama numerous times and is considered one of the greatest classical superstars of modern classical performers.
Advanced tickets will go on sale to the general public on Nov. 9. For friends of the Philharmonic, sales start Nov. 2.
Ridder encouraged students adept at playing music to get involved in the Philharmonic, comparing the experience to playing sports, and asked for support from student body. “Encouragement and involvement would definitely help us become greater! Music has a big impact on any community,” Ridder said.