The MIT Symphony Orchestra (MITSO), directed by Assistant Professor Dante Anzolini, returned last week from its 10-day performance tour of Brno, Prague, Budapest and Vienna, where the musicians received compliments and accolades which Professor Anzolini called "overwhelming."
"Music critics in Prague told Dante that we were the best college orchestra ever to play there," said Roger Chang, a MITSO cellist who graduated last Friday with a degree in mechanical engineering. A review published in Brno in the Czech Republic wrote, "The orchestra... mastered [Mahler's Fifth Symphony's] restless and very rugged relief very comprehensively and with admirable discipline," and noted that the concert "proves to us that technical minds are open even to the realm of the most demanding music."
Professor Anzolini said the students benefited from the experience "culturally, musically and socially." One of his favorite recollections was of the MITSO violinists asking him to continue rehearsing until 1am, after an exhausting eight-hour bus trip to Budapest.
"The tour was great fun for all," said Robert Jackson, who traveled with the orchestra with his wife and their son Dave, a MITSO bassoonist who just completed his freshman year at MIT. The trip gave students a "wonderful chance to get deeper into their music than the demands of MIT's academic challenge permit.
"It was quite a thrill to watch and listen as [they] raised their avocation to what the audiences felt was an accomplished, professional level," said the proud father."These young people just thrive on excellence."
The Central European tour was organized by Perform America and made possible by contributions from MIT Symphony alumni/ae, corporate sponsors, private foundations and MIT.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 7, 2000.