In addition to their regular repertoire for the Spring concert, orchestra members celebrated Vicky Greenbaum's departure with a surprise piece and present. Staff photo: Kaitlyn Tom
By Meri Klingelhofer
On Friday, May 26, the Upper School Orchestra showcased their last Spring concert with Vicky Greenbaum as their conductor. To celebrate her final year at Menlo, the seniors honored Greenbaum with heartfelt speeches and the whole orchestra surprised her with a piece they organized secretly.
The members of the orchestra felt that it was a rewarding experience to perform challenging songs during the Spring concert. “We had an extra challenging and longer repertoire,” junior Atreya Iyer, the bass section leader, said.
“It's fun when everything finally comes together and we can perform the music we've been working so hard on all semester,” sophomore flautist Meg Reinstra said.
In total, there were five soloists who performed in the show with a variety of instruments: Jonah Blaydes-Greenberg on the viola, Jonathan Hou on piano, Tiffany Tam and Alejandro Diaz-Ross on the cello, and Jason Moon on the violin.
Iyer recalls his favorite solo of the night. “My favorite was Jason Moon’s Sarasate Tarantella,” he said. “It’s always fun to watch a god in action.”
Staff photo: Kaitlyn Tom
Every Spring concert, the orchestra’s seniors are celebrated and they say their goodbyes to the group. However, their farewell speeches were more emotional because this is also Greenbaum’s last year. “It was definitely very heartfelt; everything they said was very impactful and meaningful,” sophomore trumpet section leader and assistant conductor Avi Gupta said. “It’s amazing to see how just one teacher can change one student’s entire high school career,” junior cello section leader Tiffany Tam said.
Everybody will miss the seniors, including their fellow musicians. “I think the seniors are what hold us together,” Reinstra said. “I like how they're all friends and always laugh together and make orchestra fun and lively.” Sophomore cellist Alejandro Ross and associate concertmaster, junior Chloe Lai, echo the same sentiment. “[The seniors] led various sections, defining the sound and culture of the orchestra,” Ross said. “I can't imagine orchestra without them,” Lai said.
The seniors will miss not only Greenbaum, but their fellow senior musicians as well.“What I will miss most about this year's seniors is that we really got to know each other well and we got really close,” senior tuba section leader Ben Rosenblatt said.
Staff photo: Kaitlyn Tom
Later in the show, the orchestra surprised Greenbaum by playing the Opening of the Swan Lake Suite. Only having time for two short rehearsals, they recruited three members of Menlo’s Upper School faculty to play alongside the students. With Gupta as their conductor, Rebecca Gertmenian, Tanya Buxton, and Richard Steinberg joined the orchestra. “I was worried we wouldn’t pull it off after so little practice, but it turned out great; that moment was [filled with] relief and pride,” Ross said.
The musicians were very happy to play for Greenbaum as a thank-you gift for her commitment to the orchestra. “She deserves more than flowers,” Gupta said. “The surprise piece was definitely my favorite part of the concert.”
“Swan Lake was great because we worked to make it a meaningful surprise for [Greenbaum],” Iyer said. In addition to the song, the seniors bought Greenbaum a certificate to see the Seattle Symphony. “We also planned a surprise concert for her,” Rosenblatt said. “It actually coincided with her birthday, but it was meant to be a surprise retirement party.”
“[The concert] was a big festival of joy and music-making,” Gupta said. “There was an underlying element of cherishing it while it lasted.” All those who have been a part of Menlo’s orchestra made sure to show their gratitude. “A lot of alumni and parents of past orchestra members came out to watch and support Vicky’s final concert with us,” Tam said.
“The best part of the concert was just playing with [Greenbaum] and the rest of the orchestra for the last time at Menlo,” Rosenblatt said.