Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
You can't help wondering how the New York String Orchestra and Wind Ensemble would sound if it had been in existence since, for example, Thanksgiving. But you will have to go on wondering. This year's edition of that select student ensemble was born last week, and will pass from existence after a total life span of 11 days. Monday in the Kennedy Center, under the direction of Alexander Schneider the 64 young musicians demonstrated that with talent, good training and careful rehearsal, you can put a good orchestra together in a few days.
True, the program was made up of relatively easy pieces - Bachs Third Brandenburg Concerto, Dvorak's tuneful Wind Serenade in D, a couple of Mozart rondos for piano and orchestra and six German Dances by Mozart. And the interpretation was not quite flawless; the Bach had more power than finesse in its first movement, and pianist Peter Serkin's phrasing in the rondos was sometimes on a wholly different level from the orchestra's.
Somehow, such small points don't seem to matter when you consider that these musicians range in age from 15 to 22 and that before the Christmas vacation began most of them had not met one another - they come from schools as scattered as Woodrow Wilson High School and the Royal Danish Academy of Music. The challenge faced by Schneider and his associates makes the work of other conductors (even those with student orchestras) seem absurdly simple. This was a select group of musicians, and they showed it in a spirit and finesse of their playing.
This performance was part of a week-long Holiday Festival at the Kennedy Center which included Haydns "Lord Nelson" Mass last night, follwed by the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra tonight, two performances of "The Play of Daniel" and, in conclusion, a chamber-music "Night in Old Vienna" on New Year's Eve. A rich musical menu for a festival season.