PERSPECTIVE: Symphony Orchestra member reflects on playing Carnegie Hall


Courtesy of Izzy Neville (‘20)

An overview of the Carnegie Hall stage where the symphony orchestra performed.

Izzy Neville is a violinist in East’s Symphony Orchestra, which played at Carnegie Hall earlier this week. 

Pretty much every serious musician dreams about playing in a place like Carnegie Hall, and very few of them actually get the chance to do something like that.  

The last few months, during all the random lunch breaks when we in Symphony Orchestra all had to rehearse and all the crunch time rehearsals we had to do, the idea always seemed pretty distant and too big and serious to actually be true.  Getting the chance to actually play in such a beautiful venue, though, was surreal, so much so that it’s still pretty difficult to process the grandeur of it all.  

Just trying to picture all of the celebrities and stars of the music world that have walked the same exact stage before us is pretty much impossible.  The hall itself is gorgeous, everything is white and gold, all the audience chairs are red velvet, basically exactly how you would picture a high-end concert venue.  I thought I would be more nervous than I actually was, but honestly once our concert started and we started playing, it was pretty easy to just kind of forget that the audience was even there and to actually get truly invested in what we were playing and take in all the music.  

I thought the day itself was going to be unbearably long, but really I ended up losing track of the time while I was

Courtesy of Izzy Neville (‘20)
A glance at the biography of the East Symphony Orchestra in the program for the event’s festivities.

there.  We reported to school by 11:00 a.m., loaded up the buses and started our two hour drive up to Manhattan. We made it just in time for our soundcheck at 2:30 p.m., which was all of our first times getting to see the stage in person, and we got our preview of the concert.  

After that, we had about three hours to go scrounge up something to eat off the New York streets, so a group of my friends and I grabbed some comfort food from Chipotle (which was ultimately a mistake) and headed to Central Park, where we accidentally spilled some of our burrito fillings on the ground and took some scenic pictures of the skyline.  After our Manhattan Adventure, it was time to head back to the hall for our big debut. 

Needless to say, the sound in the hall is much different than that of the band room; you start hearing parts of the music that you probably haven’t heard before, and the way the hall reverberates the sound is unlike any space that we’ve played in before.  Everything automatically sounds a hundred times fuller and more beautiful, and it’s pretty awe-inspiring. 

I feel so lucky, and still kind of in shock, at the thought that I actually played in such a revered concert hall, especially as just a junior in high school.  But this has also made me think about how lucky I am to play in such a large and talented orchestra, something that you don’t typically expect to come out of a regular high school.  And now that we’ve played in basically the most well-known concert hall in the world, I genuinely don’t think that there’s anything that we can’t accomplish in the future.