PELHAM, N.Y. – The Pelham Memorial Orchestra saved the best for last as its director called Thursday night’s spring concert performance fabulous and left her close to tears. Ten students in the 36-member orchestra will graduate in June, which gave an emotional feel to the event.
“I truly love them,” fourth-year orchestra director Michele Zanky said after receiving a bouquet from the seniors. “We’re like family. We fight, we argue, we play tricks on each other, we laugh and we have good times. They are the best group of kids probably in this school. I love them dearly, each and every one of them."
Zanky has known several of the seniors since she started teaching them in third grade. The first piece, “Canon” by Pachelbel, was a gift to the graduates because they first learned it while Zanky was their fourth grade orchestra teacher at Hutchinson Elementary School.
The director dedicated the nine-song concert to the seniors and allowed them to pick the songs, including “My Heart Will Go On” by James Horner, “Olympiad” by Paul Whear, and “Finale” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. She also handed each one flowers during the concert, with its mix of classical and modern songs.
She was most impressed by “Finale” because it is a Level 6, which is the hardest, by New York State School Music Association standards. The group performed the song at the association's Majors in March and received an “excellent” rating in their Level 5 songs.
Family and friends in the audience enjoyed the performance, including senior violoncellist Dan Waldman’s twin sister, Miranda Waldman.
“I thought they were brilliant – fantastic,” said Waldman.
Senior sopranos Joanna Holden and Maggie Hoare sang with Jonathon Comfort during “Soave Sia Il Vento” by Mozart, accompanied by the orchestra.
“I thought they played very well,” said Holden. “I had a lot of fun singing.” Hoare shared the sentiment and was “really impressed by how well” the orchestra played. Both said they love Zanky, whom they have known since third grade.
The Pelham Memorial Class of 2012 is Zanky’s first class that she has taught for four years and said it is tough to see them graduate.
“Very talented,” she said referring to her orchestra. “It was a great group – probably the best group we’re going to see here in a while.”