Winston-Salem Symphony performs annual concert

The 10th annual Concert for Community features amateur and professional musicians


Courtesy of the Winston-Salem Symphony

The Winston-Salem Symphony, along with the Winston-Salem Youth Symphony, founded in 1973, held their 10th annual Concert for Community in Wait Chapel.

Maddie Stopyra, Staff Writer

The Winston-Salem Symphony held their 10th-annual Concert for Community in Wait Chapel on Saturday, Feb. 27 in tandem with the Winston- Salem Youth Symphony. The event honored student musicians and composers through a showcase of six musical pieces. 

The Winston-Salem Youth Symphony was founded in 1973 by co-conductors Lynn Peters and Nancy Kredel. Since then, the program has developed multiple musical ensembles such as the Youth Philharmonic and the Premiere Strings. According to assistant conductor Karen Ní Bhroin, the goal of the Youth Symphony is to bridge the gap between a string orchestra and a full orchestra while strengthening children’s musical knowledge. 

“A lot of our kids come up through our program,” Ní Bhroin said. “It allows a child’s music education to develop from one stage to another.” 

Generously funded by the Winston-Salem community, the Concert for Community highlights talent from individual soloists as well as student conductors from The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA). Ní Bhroin explained the significance of connecting young musicians to professional members of the Winston-Salem Symphony. 

“Concert for Community bridges the gap between the student and the professional,” Ní Bhroin said. “These kids may not all go into music, but they will always appreciate their involvement. The event also reminds the professional orchestra members of where they started as young students.” 

The concert opened with the introduction of Arti Phoncharoensri, the junior division winner of the Peter Perret Youth Talent Search. The young violin soloist led the first performance of the concert, playing “Winter (The Four Seasons)” by Antonio Vivaldi. Audience member Tyler Gaither commented on Phoncharoensri’s extraordinary ability to not only play the violin but also to act as the conductor of a full symphony orchestra. 

“To see his level of prestige and understanding of the instrument was mind-blowing,” Gaither said. “He is so young, yet so talented.” 

After receiving a standing ovation for his performance, Phoncharoensri exited the stage, and Sam Tripp, senior division winner of the Peter Perret Youth Talent Search, took center stage alongside conductor Ní Bhroin. Ní Bhroin led the symphony in “Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor”.

When the piece was finished, Ní Bhroin shifted the focus of the event to two student composers from UNCSA. As conductor of the Youth Symphony as well as a visiting professor at UNCSA, Ní Bhroin communicated her desire to unite the musical community in Winston-Salem.

“My goal in Winston-Salem is to have as many students as possible crossing musical borders,” Ní Bhroin said. 

The first student composer, Andrew Harris, found inspiration for his piece “The Stars Above” while on a camping trip in 2019. The four-movement composition reflects a childlike dream of soaring into space. 

“I liked ‘The Stars Above’, because it was from the perspective of a child,” high school senior Ana Jennings said. “I could hear his imagination and how light and bouncy it was.” 

After Harris received recognition as a UNCSA composition competition winner, the symphony then began to play the second student composition, which was K. Christopher Pyle’s “Dances with Incandescence”. When asked about his connection to his composition and the Winston-Salem Symphony, Pyle recounted his experience with the symphony as a Winston-Salem native. 

“I know the symphony does a lot of outreach, and I was first exposed to it at my elementary school in Winston-Salem,” Pyle said. “To be able to have them play something that I wrote all this time later is really great.” 

After a brief intermission, the Winston-Salem Youth Symphony joined the professional ensemble on stage. The students learned the first piece they played — Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” — over Zoom in 2020 while being mentored by the Winston-Salem Symphony. 

The concert concluded with a performance of both “Romeo and Juliet”, and Antonín Dvořák’s “The Golden Spinning Wheel”. 

“I would definitely recommend attending a Concert for Community,” Jennings said. “It is a great environment to be in, and you get to listen to really good music from talented people.” 

The Winston-Salem Symphony has many upcoming events scheduled. On March 5, the Stevens Center at UNCSA will hold the P.L.A.Y Music Spring Seminario Concert. More information about the Winston-Salem Symphony and the Youth Symphony can be found on their website: