There are some obstacles that can be overcome by the ever-present Zoom and there are some that cannot. Steven Rochen, teacher and conductor for over 30 years at the Third Street Music School, can testify that there is no substitute for an orchestra playing together in person.
“You look for a sense of blend, an aggregate sound, ” he explains. Although some of his students – such as the foreign ones – are still remote, over 70 of his musicians gathered in front of the school on a recent Saturday morning to play together for the first time since the lockdown. He found the blend he was looking for as the group ” came together in the first ten minutes of rehearsal! They were so eager to play together.”
They were also happy to be filmed, as the performance was recorded for presentation as part of the school’s upcoming gala fundraiser, which will be presented virtually and hosted by actor Julianne Moore and her husband, director/film producer Bart Freundlich, who are parents of Third Street alumni. “The gala should have been held in a beautiful ballroom in a fancy hotel,” Communications Director Kristen Kentner laments. “But,” she continues, ” we hope to be in person next year. And we are still trying to capture the joyfulness, resiliency, celebration, togetherness and all the other things that music is.”
Viewers are encouraged to watch the gala (registration is free) on May 5 and contribute if they feel inclined. The show will honor Rochen as well as Grammy-nominated musician Yola and Myra Nieves, the school’s Assistant Director of Student Services. According to Kentner, “the Third Street Music School Settlement provides high-quality music and dance education through on-site and virtual, public-school and community programs, as well as an arts-infused preschool to New Yorkers of all ages, regardless of background, artistic ability or economic circumstance. No student is ever turned away because of their ability to pay. “
Although some of the students, who range in age from 7 to 15 years old, are still stuck in their homelands – like the one in New Zealand who gets up at 2 am to attend class via Zoom – the local musicians can look forward to more rehearsal together as well as another street performance in the near future.
And Rochen can, presumably, expect more of what he felt at the premiere reunion performance. It was, he said, “complete exhilaration.”