This past Sunday, the HP Strings presented a marvelous concert that created quite a buzz. Now in their 34th season, the first half of their program included Handel's "Judas Maccabaeus Overture" in honor of the last day of Hanukkah, Manfredini's Concerto Grosso in C major and Mozart's 25th Symphony. The latter piece's first movement was quite familiar because it was featured in the 1984 film Amadeus.
The Strings under the musical leadership of Maestro Francesco Milioto and their founder, Larry Block, have improved dramatically over the years. Highland Park should be proud to have such a fine musical organization in its back yard. With the exception of an annual benefit concert, the others are free to the community. Check the remaining concerts at their website, www.hpstrings.org
The program's second half featured a teenage sister and brother duo and they were outstanding. Erika Gray, 16, played Paganini's "La Campanella" on the viola. Listeners recognized the piece from the third movement of Paganini's Second Violin Concerto. Ms. Gray dazzled the audience with her technique and passionate playing.
Her 15 year old brother, Johnanes, followed by performing Tchaikovsky's "Pezzo Capriccioso on a rare cello. His virtuosity and technical skills complemented his sister's playing.
They both returned to perform a concerto for violin and cello by Joseph Reicha. Again they delighted the audience with the brilliant playing.
They played an encore unaccompanied by the orchestra and the audience jumped to their feet for a much-desired standing ovation. Standing ovations have become cliched, but this one was richly desired.
It will be interesting to follow the musical careers of these wonderful artists as they mature and gain international fame. Those of us who attended the concert will be able to boast that we heard them before most of the world!