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Hochstein 'reunion' concert features new work by a young Iranian composer along familiar classics

Members of the Hochstein Alumni Orchestra and conductor Evan Meccarello play on the stage of the Hochstein Performance Hall, with holiday decorations
The Hochstein Alumni Orchestra brings former students back together to make music over the holidays each year
Evan Meccarello headshot
Avi Pryntz-Nadworny
Conductor Evan Meccarello founded the Hochstein Alumni Orchestra in 2010

New music from young Iranian composer Aftab Darvishi will premiere in Rochester this week during an event that’s part concert, part reunion.

The Hochstein Alumni Orchestra’s concert on Friday will feature Darvishi’s “Toranj,” along with music by Antonin Dvorak and Carl Nielsen.
The show is part of a tradition that started 13 years ago by conductor Evan Meccarello when he decided to bring back former students of The Hochstein School to make music together.

Meccarello says the idea for the orchestra grew out of missing the “incredible experiences” he had a student studying music at The Hochstein School.

“Specifically, the experience of the Youth Symphony, where students of middle school and high school age come together from all over the wider Rochester region to play great orchestra music,” he says.

The “reunion orchestra” puts on concerts each year with just a couple rehearsals over the holidays.

“It’s really incredible,” he says, “to take a group of 50 or so people who all share this connection to a historic music school, and in this brief window, make something really special happen.”

Composer Aftab Darvishi
Mahdyar Jamschidi
Composer Aftab Darvishi

Meccarello says this year’s featured piece from Darvishi was inspired by one of the ancient motifs found in Persian carpets.

“It’s a mathematical pattern that is placed in the middle of the rug,” Meccarello explained, “and it can be many different shapes. So what the composer does is she takes this mathematical pattern and uses it to construct tones and music.”

Darvishi’s music also incorporates elements of Persian folk music, which connects it to other pieces on the program: Dvorak’s Eighth Symphony incorporates Czech folk melodies, along with inspiration from nature. And Nielsen also drew on Danish folk music for his Flute Concerto, which the orchestra will play with soloist Katrina King Nicholson.
In all the music they play this week, Meccarello says it is special to be able to “create music together and honor this place that we all got so much from.”

The concert is at 8 p.m. Friday at the Hochstein Performance Hall, 50 N. Plymouth Ave. It’s free to attend, though donations to support scholarships for future Hochstein students will be accepted.

An example of the Toranj pattern
Wikipedia Iran
An example of the Toranj pattern

Mona Seghatoleslami is the host and producer on WXXI Classical 91.5 FM weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. She also hosts the lunchtime concert series Live From Hochstein at 12:10 p.m. Wednesdays, interviews musicians, produces special programs, and works on any project she can find that helps connect people and music in our community through WXXI.