On the Road with Joanne Robinson: Show 218 Gettysburg, PA

Hi everyone! We were in historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania last week, taping a show at the Majestic Theater, a beautifully restored 1920’s vaudeville house. We kicked off the Gettysburg Festival, an annual celebration of art and culture.

As you might imagine with a production such as ours, sometimes the unexpected happens, and this show marked one of those occasions. A fantastic teen ensemble called the Emerald Quartet was scheduled to perform on the show. Repertoire had been chosen and the script was well on its way when we received the news that one of the quartet members had a passport issue while on vacation in his home country of Venezuela and would be unable to return in time for our taping, which was less than a week away! The producers had to think quickly.

They knew this was an incredibly talented group of young musicians so they decided to bring in the three remaining members and have them play as a piano quartet with host Christopher O’Riley. Violinist Ethan Hoppe and violist Clayton Penrose-Whitmore, and cellist Alexander Hersh quickly learned their parts of the newly assigned piece – the Rondo alla zingarese finale from the Brahms G minor Piano Quartet – and then flew in to Gettysburg to rehearse it with Chris one day before the taping. Talk about a high-pressure situation! These three were obviously up to the task, however, because it came together fantastically.

It was a great show all around, and very diverse in terms of personalities and repertoire. There was 14-year-old pianist Hyung-Do Kim, who beautifully played Liszt’s La Campanella, 16-year-old violinist Elaine Kang, who played Sarasate’s showy Carmen Fantasy, and quirky 13-year-old cellist Kathryn Westerlund, who performed Shostakovich and then discussed her synesthesia (she sees colors when she plays music, and also associates people with colors. She told Chris he was purple, and she saw me as green).

We even featured royalty! Tubist Sodie Finebone, who is a descendent of a Nigerian king, gorgeously played a movement from Concerto for Tuba by Edward Gregson. He discussed his passion for music and his gratitude towards the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program, which has mentored him since he started playing tuba.

Now for your video enjoyment, I want to show you the audition tape the Emerald Quartet sent in. Here they are, complete with their fourth member, violinist Kenneth Jones-Madrid, playing the piece they were intending to play on our show – the fifth movement from String Quartet No. 4 by Béla Bartók. Enjoy! And don’t forget to tune in when our Gettysburg show airs the week of September 20th.