President's Concert to play Carnegie Hall

February 07, 2010

University Park, Pa. -- Four years ago, a few key people at Penn State had a vision to bring together students and alumni for a gala evening. That vision turned into the first Penn State President's Concert in 2007, featuring several of the School of Music's top performing ensembles in a special performance at Pittsburgh's Heinz Hall, with special pricing and a pre-concert reception for Penn State alumni and friends.

Hosted by President Graham B. Spanier and sponsored jointly by the Alumni Association and the School of Music, the President's Concert was such a hit that it became an annual event, with performances by Penn State students at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., in 2008 and at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia in 2009.

This year's President's Concert will feature the Penn State Philharmonic performing in America's most prestigious concert hall, New York City's Carnegie Hall, at 8 p.m. March 24. As with the previous concerts, there will be a pre-concert reception for alumni and friends.

These special concerts have become an important part of the music students' educational experience. Penn State's various performance venues are more multipurpose in nature and are not built to the same acoustical specifications as a dedicated master concert hall. Having students performing in venues such as Carnegie Hall gives them a completely different perspective of how their music is supposed to sound, explained Gerardo Edelstein, conductor of the Penn State Philharmonic and associate professor of music. "It's like eating gourmet food as opposed to fast food, or playing football in your backyard versus playing at Penn State's Beaver Stadium. In addition, it is a very moving experience to perform at venues where the great composers and famous artists performed."

Marcos Vives, in the second year of his master's program in cello performance, performed at the Kimmel Center last year, and is looking forward to playing in Carnegie Hall this year. "It was awesome to play in such a great hall. It was very impressive, especially to see it from the stage. The acoustics were impressive, and the large number of people that attended the concert also was very great," Vives said about his Kimmel Center experience. Regarding the upcoming performance at Carnegie Hall, he said, "It's unique, in two years to have been performing in Kimmel Center and Carnegie Hall. It's a great experience. I don't think you'll find that very often at other schools."

Percussionist and music education freshman Laura Brown is excited about performing in Carnegie Hall as well. "That was part of the reason I decided to do orchestra -- it sounded like an awesome experience to perform there," she said. "I played in Heinz Hall before, and the Hershey Theatre, and a couple of other bigger places in Pennsylvania, but this is … this is Carnegie Hall. It's going to be really exciting, and it's definitely going to be something completely beyond anything else I've ever done as a musician. I'll be nervous, but it'll be totally awesome."

In addition, the performances give the musicians a chance to show the high caliber of talent and education found in Penn State's School of Music.

Attending the Heinz Hall performance in 2007 as a prospective student was a big factor in sophomore bassist Mike Dice's decision to come to Penn State to study music education. "The thing that stood out to me most is that I'm really interested in jazz and I got to see the jazz combo play at the pre-concert reception. It was fantastic. I loved that, and I got to talk to some of the bass students and get their perspective. I got to learn a lot about the school just by talking to current students in tuxes at Heinz Hall." He continued, "I didn't really know exactly where Penn State was musically until I went to that concert and saw them perform."

The performances also instill pride in alumni. "Musical ambassadors are the best ambassadors any university could have, and that's why the Penn State Alumni Association is such a strong supporter of the President's Concert," said Roger Williams, executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association. "What makes this even more special is the collaboration of the School of Music, the Office of the President and the Alumni Association. It takes tremendous foresight, planning and resources to move a troupe of musicians to a distant venue, much less Carnegie Hall, and it is made possible only through this three-pronged partnership. But it's the end result that's particularly gratifying – putting Penn State students and faculty in front of Penn State alumni and friends and watching the magic unfold."

Before the concert, to be held in Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium, the Penn State Alumni Association will host a reception from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Rohatyn Room and Shorin Club Room, located inside Carnegie Hall. Alumni and friends can enjoy hors d'oeuvres and socializing with other Penn Staters. Admission to the concert and reception is $50 per person for Alumni Association members; $60 per person for non-members. For tickets to the reception and concert, visit and click on the link to the President's Concert. Those who are able to attend only the concert should purchase tickets at $15 for adults and $10 for students directly from the Carnegie Hall Box Office or through CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800.

  • Susan Boardman, seated at left, and Darryl Durran, standing, spoke with prospective School of Music student Mike Dice and his parents before the President's concert in 2007. Dice now is in the Penn State Philharmonic, and will perform at Carnegie Hall in March.

    IMAGE: Annemarie Mountz
Last Updated November 18, 2010