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How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?

For the Smith College Orchestra, the answer to that question is twofold: hard work and a 100-year anniversary celebration.

The Smith College Orchestra, directed by Jonathan Hirsh, will celebrate its 100th anniversary with a debut concert at New York City's Carnegie Hall on May 11. The 60-member ensemble will perform Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 at the performance, joined by the Smith College Glee Club and the University of Michigan's Men's Glee Club. Beethoven's Ninth, a monumental undertaking, was first performed by the orchestra in 2000. The group will also perform the piece at Smith's John M. Greene Hall on May 9.

The idea to perform at Carnegie stemmed from Hirsh's desire to follow up the Smith concert of Beethoven's largest work with another performance in a New York venue, partly to give students another opportunity to play the piece. "We spend so much time preparing for a concert, and then it is over so quickly," Hirsch remarks. As he explains, Carnegie Hall is one of the few houses in New York with a large enough stage to accommodate the 250 performers needed for the piece. "Since we had to rent a large auditorium, Carnegie Hall would obviously be anyone's first choice. We called them and asked about availability, waited about six months and got a date."

It was June 17, 1904, when the Smith College Symphony Orchestra debuted during the Commencement Week, performing Mozart's The Magic Flute among other works. Since then, thousands of musicians have performed in the group as it has evolved, raising its prominence in the past five years. Last year, the orchestra traveled to Trinidad and Tobago to perform, and each year the ensemble is invited to Regis College to perform at the American Choral Directors Association's Collegiate Choral Festival.

For information about the Carnegie Hall concert, consult www.smith.edu/orchestra. Tickets are available through Smith until March 11. After that date, tickets will be available only through the Carnegie Hall box office.

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