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Conductors Share Excitement about the 50th Anniversary Concert

The 50th Anniversary of the Exchange Program between Norfolk Academy and Copernicus-Gymnasium Löningen is being marked with transatlantic concerts. The schools in partnership commissioned a piece by composer Stephen Melillo, “We Hold These Truths,” for the Copernicus-Gymnasium concert band and Norfolk Academy’s Upper School Chorus.

During a week of intense rehearsals before the first performance on April 1, Saturday, at Norfolk Academy, the two conductors, Cheney Doane of Norfolk Academy and Philipp Hemmen of CGL made time for a brief interview. It was conducted in German by Ms. Caroline Renschen, who serves as chair of the French Department and in the communications office at Copernicus-Gymnasium.

On Monday you could feel it in the air - everyone was so excited about this first encounter of the chorus and the orchestra, that it finally was becoming true. Describe your feelings on this first day.

Mr. Doane: We got on very well from the beginning on Zoom. Nonetheless we were asking ourselves how this was going to be. Actually it was such a relief to see how easy it was because everyone had such a good level.

When did you meet, and how did you stay in contact?

Mr. Hemmen: We met for the first time exactly one year ago online and Zoomed 4-5 times since then.

Did you send each other audios?

Mr. Doane: Exactly, in this way we could practice – the choir could imagine the music, get used to the tempo and the chords.

Mr. Hemmen: You never can replace a live rehearsal though. When we played together for the first time, that was a such a fantastic moment. You just thought, ok – ok – wow!”

Mr. Doane: Same here – we were deeply impressed. “They can do it!” During the past two days there has been an incredible development of the ensemble and we are convinced that the singers and musicians will communicate the emotions of the pieces on Saturday 100 percent. They are working so hard besides their normal school day, and they will be ready.

Tomorrow Stephen Melillo, the composer, will be here. Are you nervous about that?  

Mr. Hemmen: No, we are excited but not nervous.

Mr. Doane: We know that we have something to offer.

Do you have favorite movements, as the piece has five movements that are quite different?

Mr. Hemmen: That is difficult to say at this point.

Mr. Doane: Maybe Never Forgotten or In the Courts of Time.

Mr. Hemmen: I fully agree.

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