Young Cellist Is Featured Soloist At Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras’ Concert



Sammy Andonian

By Ara Arakelian

BOSTON — One of the rewards of living in the Greater-Boston area is the availability and abundance of musical educational and performance opportunities for the young and the musically gifted. Aspiring musicians gain invaluable experience performing in various ensemble settings before they embark on rigorous, professional studies in their chosen instrument.

Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (BYSO) is a full symphonic orchestra with more than 100 advanced players. Members perform in two chamber orchestra configurations — the Repertory Sinfonietta and the Repertory Camerata — where they explore classical music from different eras under different music directors, allowing them to hone in specific skills required for smaller ensemble playing. Larger works of much later musical periods are performed with the united forces of the two bands, under the name of Repertory Orchestra.

The orchestra also holds an annual concerto competition for its members, allowing a solo performance opportunity for the winner. This year the winner of the first prize is 12-year-old cellist Sammy Andonian of Lincoln, who performed Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei, a composition for solo cello, harp and orchestra, on January 30, at Boston University’s Tsai Performance Center. The piece is a set of slow variations on two Hebrew melodies, the first of which — the prayer “Kol Nidrei” — is usually performed on Yom Kippur. The cello part, with its inward lyricism that imitates liturgical chants, provides ample opportunity for deep musical expression for the artist. Andonian’s rendition was captivating for its emotional intensity and communicative powers; one could not help being drawn to the meditative mood of the work. The program included Haydn’s Symphony No. 101, performed by the Repertory Sinfonietta under shared conducting arrangements by John Holland and Joel Bard, and Edward Elgar’s challenging and expansive work, the Enigma Variations, performed by the BYSO under Bard’s leadership. Both works received spirited performances despite the occasional uneven entrances and intonation issues that are to be expected in any student orchestra performance.

Sammy Andonian received unreserved support from conductor Bard and the members of the orchestra, which included his brother, Alexander, 16, a violinist and a sophomore at the Rivers School in Weston, and violinist Sophie Gechijian, also 16, a junior at Concord- Carlisle High School.

In addition to the cello, Sammy Andonian enjoys studying the violin, viola, piano, trumpet and voice. He is currently a member of both the New England Conservatory’s Youth Repertory Orchestra as a violinist, and of the Boston Children’s Chorus Premier Choir, their most advanced performing ensemble. Recent highlights with the Boston Children’s Chorus include a nationally-televised performance in Boston’s Jordan Hall, performances with Opera Boston in their world premiere of the fully-staged opera, “Madame White Snake” and a 12- day concert tour of Jordan upon the request of King Abdullah II. In 2010, he was also a featured vocal soloist with the MIT chorus and orchestra and was recently invited to sing as a soloist with the Dartmouth College chorus and orchestra.