Elizabeth Faidley: Four Seasons and 34 Students with Orchestra

April 4, 2023, 5:53 PM · Inspired by New York City-based violin teacher Elizabeth Faidley and her pedagogy symposiums, I decided to make the trek on Sunday into Manhattan from Brooklyn, where I was fortunate enough to catch a one-of-a-kind performance at the Kauffman Center’s Merkin Hall. Ms. Faidley, a violinist and pedagogue, presented 34 of her students (THIRTY-FOUR) with the opportunity to perform with a wonderful chamber orchestra.

The logistics of such a project seem daunting enough, without even thinking of getting each performer ready to perform with orchestra. Elizabeth passionately thanked the orchestra at the sound check, explaining that performing with orchestra is so special and so rare - she really wanted her students to experience it, no matter their age or if they had won a competition. She spoke about leadership, confidence, and bravery.

Each student popped excitedly onto the stage and performed one movement from Vivaldi’s "Four Seasons." The students ranged in age from seven to 17, and they each had their own sound and sense of being a true performer. They did not seem to be cookie-cutter students, like I have seen from some other major studios. I was sitting on the left side of the hall and could see Ms. Faidley talk to each one before he/she entered the stage, and then engulfed each one in a giant hug afterwards. There were moments where intonation slipped, but each performance was so stunning and beautiful and each student was full of personality - it didn't really matter.

Students of Elizabeth Faidley, Romy, Pamela and Nicolas.
Students of Elizabeth Faidley: L-R: Romy Kim, Pamela Davidson and Nicolas Lin.

It’s hard to choose stand-outs from such a concert, but Romy Kim, age eight, tearing confidently through Winter’s third movement, was especially inspiring, as well as Xuchen Zhou, whose joy filled the hall. Arianna Chan stayed extremely calm under the pressure and delighted the audience with her Springtime "bird conversations." Several of her older students, including Kaylin Chung, Nicolas Lin, Millie Bell, and Mia Oehm were also show- stoppers. Ms. Faidley’s daughter, Aurelia, a cello prodigy, whipped through her Tessarini showpiece like she had been born to perform with orchestra.

Ms. Faidley’s longtime collaborator, Michael Wittenburg, conducted from the harpsichord, and seemed to know each and every student uniquely. He led the concert with joy and professionalism and was clearly the glue holding everything together in such a beautiful way.

The program notes were so fun and reflective of the amazing program. My favorite biography was for student Claire Wang (who beautifully performed "Summer"). "Claire Wang is 14 years old and wants to be a researcher, housecleaner, or astronaut. Claire enjoys studying and cleaning. She wishes she could fly and teleport to cut down on all the 'time spent walking.' She would like to have dinner with Elizabeth (correct answer), Vivaldi, and the oldest person on her family tree. Claire has a dog named 'Snowy,' but in general, dislikes dogs." It was so fun to learn about each young violinist.

After the concert, I asked Ms. Faidley how she planned such an event, and she laughed and said that she "doesn't sleep very much," but that it everything is worth it because of this magical experience. On April 15, cello pedagogue Hans Jorgen Jensen will give her studio a private lecture in the Art of Practicing, and she is welcoming back Ray Chen at the end of the month for a masterclass and an "up close and personal conversation."

To find out more about what’s happening with Elizabeth Faidley and her studio of amazing musicians, check out her Instagram @faidleystudio or website: www.elizabethfaidley.com

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April 5, 2023 at 06:58 PM · How nice for students to have the opportunity to play a solo with orchestra! And what a huge event to organize.

One of my colleagues here in Los Angeles, Carrie Salisbury, recently organized something like this - she put together a chamber orchestra to play with several of her students, and I was happy to play in it. She even had some LA Phil musicians among us! I think it was very rewarding for her students and gave them a sense of pride to be part of it.

Also, my old Suzuki group to have an annual "Concerto Night" organized by my colleague Liz Arbus. All of us teachers would play as an orchestra, along with some alumni and area colleagues, and the kids would have the chance to play their Suzuki music (from Twinkles through Vivaldi, etc.) with orchestra. It was such a fun event!

I like to hear about these kinds of events, and I hope it gives people ideas for their own studios and communities. Playing as a soloist with orchestra is such a different experience than playing with a pianist. Wonderful to get early experience and awareness of that!

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