Massapequa Philharmonic’s InsideOut Concert strikes a chord

The Massapequa Philharmonic Orchestra performed at Alfred G. Berner Middle School in Massapequa for the group's InsideOut Spring Concert March 24. // Jasmine Sellars/Long Island Advocate

By Jasmine Sellars

The Massapequa Philharmonic Orchestra brought the stage alive with the harmonious sounds of Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and the timeless grandeur of Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5” at Alfred G. Berner Middle School for the group’s spring concert March 24.

The innovative performance, led by music director and conductor David Bernard, featured an interactive experience between the orchestra, the audience and Bernard, who briefly paused in between the two pieces to engage and educate the audience. Bernard also offered a special InsideOut Concerts experience for a group of six audience members, inviting them onstage to sit with the orchestra during the performance of Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony.”

The viola section playing Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5.” // Photo by Jasmine Sellars/ Long Island Advocate

“Every concert is a new experience,” Bernard said. “This one was very special. I think the orchestra really outdid themselves. I felt it was personal. The Copland ‘Appalachian Spring’ was just very heartfelt and Beethoven’s Fifth was very exciting.”

“Appalachian Spring” is a ballet score composed by Aaron Copland, underscoring the American pioneer spirit and the beauty of the Appalachian region with layers of evocative melodies and harmonies. Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5″ is one of the most famous symphonies in classical music, renowned for its powerful four-note motif, “Da-Da-Da-Dum,” which the musicians play back and forth among one another throughout the piece.

“I’ve been listening to classical music all my life, certainly Beethoven’s 5th, and never in my life have I had the opportunity to sit with the symphonic orchestra,” said InsideOut audience member Richard Handler, who sat onstage in the orchestra.

The double bass section plays Beethoven’s
“Symphony No. 5.” // Photo by Jasmine Sellars/Long Island Advocate

“Sitting outside,” he said, “you hear this whole piece as a unified structure. But yet, sitting up there with each individual instrument, you hear each piece played separately. I was lucky enough to sit next to that contrabassoon, the bass and the violas.”

For 38 years, the Massapequa Philharmonic Orchestra has been among Long Island’s premier orchestras, showcasing world-class soloists and working closely with the Nassau County Museum of Art and Massapequa Public Schools.

As part of the orchestra’s collaboration with the school district, this concert is one of many performances that serve to educate and entertain children, families and music lovers across Long Island. Bernard noted the staff and music departments in schools across the Island value this contribution, which exposes the students to classical music.

A map displaying the “Best Music Education Districts on Long Island,” which were recognized in “The Best Communities for Music Education” (BCME) program of The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation in 2023. // Graphic by Jasmine Sellars/ Google My Maps

“I really enjoyed the concert and I thought all of it was amazing,” elementary school student Kiernan Neville said. “My favorite part was the second piece. I’ve listened to classical music before, and I usually enjoy listening to things that include orchestra and brass. I like the sound of those two together.”

Beethoveen’s “Symphony No. 5″ is known for its “angular sound.” Bernard said the symphony has a distinctive way of pausing throughout the piece, keeping the listener guessing what will happen next.

“My favorite part was probably the second part of the ‘Fifth Symphony,’ and I liked all the jumbles of music,” said InsideOut audience member and elementary school student Anna Minunni.

A violinist performing Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5.” // Photo by Jasmine Sellars/Long Island Advocate

The InsideOut performance was also a unusual experience for the instrumentalists, who expressed that special moments like these do not happen often.

“I feel that we had a really exciting concert today,” flute player Kennedy Burgess said. “It was really thrilling to look at people who were sitting on stage with us and see that emotion on their faces, whether they were experiencing music that was joyful, exciting or more calm.”

Percussionist Louis Winesberg playing the timpani during the orchestra’s performance of Beethoveen’s
Fifth. // Photo by Jasmine Sellars/Long Island Advocate

“It’s really nice when they come up and sit in the orchestra and experience the music from a different perspective,” timpani percussionist Louis Winesberg said. “There were some younger kids who were looking around and checking out the timpani because they were like, ‘Wow this is really interesting,’ and it was a different experience for them.”