Hochstein, Lithuania Sister Cities group join forces for concert

05:00 AM, Jan 26, 2014


Written By Caurie Putnam

No Jack Garner

Jack Garner is on vacation. His column will return in a few weeks.

If you goWhat: Hochstein Youth Symphony Orchestra in a joint concert with the Alytus Music School Youth Symphony Orchestra via live stream.
When: 1 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Roberts Wesleyan College Cultural Life Center, 2301 Westside Drive, Chili.
Tickets: $5 (free for students), available at the door.
For more information: Hochstein.org.

The Hochstein Youth Symphony Orchestra members are getting a civics lesson this year, as well as elevating their music skills.

The musicians, middle and high school students from all over the region, have been working with Lithuania’s Alytus Music School Youth Symphony Orchestra on a concert that will take place simultaneously at Roberts Wesleyan College and in a concert hall in Alytus.

Hochstein’s numbers will be live-streamed in Lithuania and vice versa with Alytus’ pieces.

The project is the brainchild of Alytus-Rochester Sister Cities Committee, and organizers believe it is the first time this type of performance has been done with youth symphonies. Dignitaries are expected in each audience. In Rochester, Zygimantas Pavilionis, Lithuania’s ambassador to the United States and Mexico, will be in the audience.

Originally, the sister cities committee had hoped one of the orchestras would be able to travel overseas so the they could be performing in one concert hall.

But the cost was prohibitive, says Jolanda Chesonis of Webster, chairperson of arts and cultural projects for the Alytus-Rochester Sister Cities Committee. One of the reasons she’s so passionate about the project is because her father, Rimas Chesonis, was born in Lithuania and led the effort to establish the sister cities link.

Alytus, a city of 68,000 located along the Nemunas River in southern Lithuania, became one of Rochester’s 12 sister cities in 2009. Committee members found the answer to bridging the 4,000-mile gap through the live-stream technology.

The orchestras have also been using technology to get to know each other before the show. A closed Facebook group was started for the musicians from both youth orchestras to join.

Some nice robust conversation has occurred,” says Casey Springstead, director of the orchestra based at the Hochstein School of Music and Dance. “They are starting to ask questions of each other and talk about their experiences as youth musicians in their countries. It’s been a perfect avenue for the kids to get to know each other before we perform.”

Altogether, 160 young musicians will be playing in the transatlantic concert.

Chesonis, an art adviser, says the committee immediately thought of Hochstein for the project.

Their mission is virtually one in the same as the mission of the Alytus Youth Symphony Orchestra — to provide youth access to music,” she says

Springstead says he embraced the idea.

It was a tremendous honor to be approached,” Springstead says. “This is completely uncharted territory for us, and the opportunities it has brought have been terrific.”