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MPO Retreat 2024

Midwest students Mio Sugishita (left) and William Maeda (top right) rehearse their pieces with MPO.

Midwest Students had a Phil-nomenal time at the 2024 Midwest Philharmonic Orchestra Retreat! Held in February at Elmhurst University. The young musicians spent two days polishing their program for the 10th Annual Midwest Conservatory Concerto Competition Winner's Concert.

Alongside full rehearsals with MPO conductor Taka Matsunaga, students were treated to sectionals led by Eleanor Bartsch, Associate Concertmaster of the Elgin Symphony, and Kumiko Nowlan, Clarinet Faculty at MCM. Eun Kim, MCM Cello Faculty member and conductor of the Midwest String Orchestra, as well as MSO's assistant, Grace Valentine, were on hand working with students as well.

A highlight of the overnight retreat included a trip to Chicago. After checking in for a stay at a hotel in the Loop, students enjoyed dinner at the famed Berghoff Restaurant, and made their way to Symphony Center to catch the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in action.

The CSO program included Beethoven's Leonore Overture No. 3 and Nielsen's Symphony No. 5. However, our students were most excited to see and hear acclaimed cello soloist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason live, who delivered an impassioned performance of Elgar's Cello Concerto. The MPO/MCM crew even had a chance to meet Mr. Kanneh-Mason post-concert for autographs and musical camaraderie.

On Sunday, the full orchestra was treated to a masterclass given by CSO Principal Trombonist and Conductor of the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest, Jay Friedman. He helped the young musicians gear up for their concert by sharing his insight's on Rimsky-Korsakov's Symphony No. 1. He also delighted our students and mentors alike with tales from his impressive 60+ tenure with the CSO.

The weekend culminated in a concert which showcased the outstanding talent from the Midwest Conservatory Concerto Competition. First Place winner Lauren Capuno, cello, was superb on Camille Saint-Saens' Concerto Mvt. 1, and Second Place winner Anika Bharadwaj, flute, excellently delivered Jules Mouquet's La Flute de Pan.

And a big congratulations goes to our MCM students who were featured in the MCCC Winner's Concert. William Maeda, winner of the Junior Division, beautifully performed Robert Schumann's Concerto in A minor, op. 54 Mvt. 1, and Mio Sugishita brilliantly presented Friedrich Kuhlau's Sonatina Op. 55, No. 1. We are so proud of the hard work you put in and how you each shined so brightly in this opportunity to play alongside the Midwest Philharmonic Orchestra. Well done!

The students enjoyed a night out in the city to see the CSO (top), and worked hard in rehearsals with Jay Friedman (bottom left) and Eun Kim (bottom right).

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