Performing with the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra

Reagan George performs with The Phil
By Reagan George

As I waited backstage at Plymouth Memorial Hall to perform at The Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra’s annual Sunday Family Concert last March, I was feeling a mix of emotions. I was excited but also very nervous. Even though I was twelve years old, I had worked towards this moment for a very long time. The chance to play with The Plymouth Philharmonic with conductor Maestro Steven Karidoyanes. As I walked out to the stage and bowed, I looked out into the crowd of 1000 people. Taking my seat, I turned towards the Maestro and waited for his nod.  After playing the first notes of my Mozart Concerto No. 19, my nervousness vanished and the excitement of playing with an orchestra took over.

I prepared for this moment for over four months at South Shore Conservatory, with my teacher HuiMin Wang. Preparing for a concerto is different than preparing for a piece you would play by yourself. This concerto was 37 pages long, and took twelve minutes to play. This was much longer than any other piece I had learned before. To get through the piece successfully, I needed to maintain stamina and learn to pace myself. I had to not only memorize all of the notes, but the smallest details as well. I also had to learn to play with other musicians. It was important to be both aware of the details of the piece, and aware of my surroundings. I had to pay particular attention to the teacher’s cues, in preparation for my work with the Maestro. Above all, I had to maintain perfect tempo in order to keep up with the orchestra.

In some ways, I had prepared for this experience my whole childhood. We had a piano in our house that had been left by previous owners. I would always tell my parents, with no musical background, “I want to play that piano!” Not knowing where to take me for lessons, my mother tried to steer me towards other hobbies, such as gymnastics or karate. But I insisted on piano. And when I was seven, I was lucky that my mother found South Shore Conservatory.

Playing with the Philharmonic was the result of my five years of training with my teacher HuiMin. When I played with the orchestra, I learned a lot about myself. It helped me realize that playing in front of large crowds isn’t so scary after all – it can actually be fun! And the audience’s response to my playing definitely helped reinforce my realization. Through collaborating with the orchestra, I’m now more comfortable playing pieces with other musicians.  This will be important if I make a career out of playing piano.

It was wonderful to meet all of the musicians. Everyone was so encouraging, especially the Maestro. After playing, I was given a standing ovation, and took a bow by the Maestro’s side. The whole experience convinced me of what I already knew deep down. That if I continued to work hard, one day I could achieve my goal of becoming a professional musician.

South Shore Conservatory’s next annual HuiMin Wang Youth Concerto Competition, supported by the Herzfelder Family, takes place on January 18 at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  The overall winner of the competition, in addition to receiving an SSC scholarship, will perform with the Plymouth Philharmonic at their annual Family Concert on Sunday, March 8.  Learn more about SSC’s student competitions at https://sscmusic.org/student-competitions/ or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

South Shore Conservatory student pianist Reagan George, 13, lives in Easton.  In addition to piano, Reagan likes playing flute in marching band, jazz band and concert band and she enjoys spending time with friends.

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