Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra

April 26: NY Phil musicians perform Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra benefit concert

April 26: NY Philharmonic musicians perform a benefit concert for Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra in a homey setting

WHCO presents an evening with violinist Anna Rabinova, cellist Ru-Pei Yeh and pianist Steven Beck at The Lounge in Washington Heights

The Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra is proud to present an intimate evening with highly acclaimed musicians of the New York Philharmonic. The program on Friday, April 26 at 8:00 pm features violinist Anna Rabinova, cellist Ru-Pei Yeh and pianist Steven Beck in a program of classics by Beethoven and Brahms, and Paul Schoenfield's whimsical Cafe Music. 

The evening includes drinks and hors d'oeuvres, and an opportunity to meet the performers and Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra musicians. The event is a fundraiser for WHCO, which has been bringing free high-quality orchestra performances to upper Manhattan audiences for the past four seasons.

The venue is the intimate setting of The Lounge at historic Hudson View Gardens, 128 Pinehurst Avenue in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. Tickets for this benefit event are $75, available for purchase at WashingtonHeightsOrchestra.org. Details and performer bios are available at the same link.

The Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra, founded in 2015 by conductor and music director Chris Whittaker, is a professional ensemble that presents free concerts to its Upper Manhattan community. Comprised of musicians from Upper Manhattan, the orchestra presents engaging concerts with a diverse repertoire; including favorite classical works, genre bending crossover pieces, and works by living composers. The WHCO strives to engage the people of Washington Heights and neighboring communities through exemplary musical performances and innovative educational programming. Learn more at WashingtonHeightsOrchestra.org

Hudson View Gardens, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of the very first cooperative apartment complexes in New York. Situated on the highest natural point in Manhattan, it overlooks the Hudson River and the scenic palisades of New Jersey. HVG is known for its beautifully manicured gardens, tree-lined private lane and classic Tutor architecture.

The Lounge at HVG, a cozy space complete with a bar, library and fireplace, is host to events for residents of Hudson View Gardens and the public.


April 26, 2019 at 8:00 pm

Benefit Concert for Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra featuring:

Anna Rabinova, Violin

Ru-Pei Yeh, Cello

Steven Beck, Piano


BeethovenKakadu Variations, Op. 121a

Elliott CarterEpigrams

Brahms: Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor, Op. 101

SchoenfieldCafé Music

The Lounge at Hudson View Gardens

128 Pinehurst Avenue at West 183rd Street in Manhattan

Tickets: $75, available at WashingtonHeightsOrchestra.org

Directions: Take the A train or #1 train to 181st St or the M4 bus to 183rd St.

Lucid Culture Reviews Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra

Darkly Compelling, Lushly Relevant Orchestral Works in Washington Heights

This past evening a string subset of the Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra played a lush, majestic, sweeping, potently relevant program of works by 20th and 21st century composers. The performance validated conventional wisdom in real estate bubble-era New York: the fringes are where the most cutting-edge artists are supposed to be. Ask yourself how many members of the Philharmonic actually walk to work: it’s a fair bet that a good percentage of this talented ensemble did.

The group echoed Music Director Chris Whittaker’s poise on the podium, at least with as much poise as a string section can maintain playing distinctly troubled music. The central theme was Japanese, comprising works by composers with Japanese heritage, setting up a harrowing look back at the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Fukushima wasn’t addressed, but it might as well have been, considering how plaintive and elegaic the overall ambience was.

Both the opening and concluding pieces, Kenji Bunch’s Supermaximum and Christopher Theofanidis’ A Thousand Cranes opened with percussive rustles from the bass section, a neat pairing. The former was an alternately kinetic and stark interweave of 19th century gospel-inflected pentatonic melody and more distinctly Asian motives. Permeated with the call-and-response of chain gang chants, it spoke for itself as a reminder of how little has changed in over a century.

The showstopper was an understatedly aching, enveloping take of Toru Takemitsu’s Requiem For String Orchestra. Moving gracefully from an austere pavane to stabbing close harmonies that foreshadow Julia Wolfe’s work, and then to to cellular Glass-ine phrasing, the group locked in on its relentless, overcast atmosphere.

Karen Tanaka’s Dreamscape suite often had a similarly circular but more distinctly nebulous effect, their group parsing its starry pointillisms and sparely memorable hooks with delicacy to match their lustre, harpist Tomina Parvanova and concertmaster Mark Chien tracing lively comet tails and deep-space bubbles.

Theofanidis’ piece was inspired by the Japanese tradition of making paper cranes. As the myth goes, producing a thousand of them allows for a wish to come true. That activity became a meme among those stricken with radiation poisoning and all kinds of other horrible illnesses after August of 1945.

The triptych is a hard piece to play, partly because it covers so much ground, emotionally speaking. There was unexpectedly calm jubilance in the opening overture of sorts, which disappeared as reality sank in. The group nimbly tackled the precisely dancing pizzicato section and then let the mournful washes afterward linger. The steady procession up to a decidedly unresolved ending was just as poignant.

The orchestra are staging monthly concerts  this spring: the next one is March 23 at 3 PM at at Fort Washington Collegiate Church, 729 W 181st St. just up the hill from the 1 train, with works by Korngold, Britten, Anna Clyne and Michael Torke. Admission is free; $25 gets you into the reception afterward and for the rest of the season as well.