I'm handing over my blog today to my colleague and good friend, Laura Leverton. Laura manages the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's annual Side-by-Side concert, which pairs enormously talented high school musicians with their counterparts in the Orchestra. Many of these high school students go on to successful careers in music, just like she did.
What’s your favorite musical memory?
Mine is a 16-year-old version of me, playing the flute solo of Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Fawn to a standing ovation in the Hilbert Circle Theatre.
No, seriously! I was part of the ISO’s Side-by-Side program in 2000 and 2001, and had the time of my life playing alongside members of the ISO with about 50 other high school students from around the state. It. Was. Awesome.
Today, I manage the Side-by-Side program, (now in its 21st season) and each year I remember how thrilling it is to be part of this long-standing Indiana tradition. The students who participate are knock-your-socks off talented—I mean, holy cow good—but with the Midwestern charm and respect that makes them an absolute delight to see each week for rehearsals.
One of the things I love to see every year is how the students become instant friends. They support each other, joke around backstage, occasionally find a love interest… (“If music be the food of love, play on,” right?) But you can see, hear, and feel this connectedness onstage, and it makes the concert absolutely electric.
What you can’t see onstage are the many paths these students take after the curtain falls. Each year, Side-by-Side alumni graduate to attend the nation’s most prestigious conservatories. That’s part of the magic—you never know if you’re watching the next Lang Lang, Yo-Yo Ma, or Josh Bell. This year, the concerto soloists include a 16-year-old violist, and a 14-year-old cellist. What were YOU doing when you were 14?! Probably not performing as a soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
If you’ve never been to a Side-by-Side concert or if you’re just ready for this year’s dose of inspiration, come to this year’s concert on March 7 at 7:30 p.m. It’s open to the public, and all tickets and goose bumps are free. Seriously, don’t be surprised if you get choked up: the intensity of the student musicians, the rapport with the ISO pros, and the innocent sparkle of 16-year-old virtuosity—it may become one of YOUR favorite musical memories.