Video feature: ECCO lights up Princeton with music

March 11, 2013 noon
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Video stills by Danielle Alio

When Jonathan Vinocour, a 2001 Princeton alumnus, was an undergraduate, he always looked forward to Sunday evening rehearsals with the Princeton University Orchestra, where he was section leader for the violas. This video captures the experience Vinocour — now principal violist with the San Francisco Symphony — had when he came back to campus with the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, known as ECCO, a chamber orchestra he co-founded.

ECCO, a self-conducted ensemble made up of string players from leading conservatories, orchestras and music festivals across the country, performed on Feb. 12 as part of the Princeton University Concerts series at Richardson Auditorium.

Two days before the concert, Vinocour, along with fellow members of ECCO, attended a Sunday evening rehearsal of the orchestra to give the student musicians musical and performance advice.

"I just remember always looking forward to coming to orchestra rehearsals because in orchestra it always felt like I could just relax and enjoy the music-making," Vinocour said. "Especially doing it with all of these other people — and knowing that there are all of these other people on campus who wanted to be doing the same thing."

Nathan Haley, a junior majoring in economics, said Vinocour offered compliments and suggestions. "He had a lot of good things to say about the makeup of the orchestra and the way we play. And he had a lot of great ideas to help us grow," he said.  

ECCO also visited Frist Campus Center, giving an unannounced "pop-up" concert during lunch on the day before the concert at Richardson. Students had the opportunity to relax and listen to the music while getting a live preview of the next evening's program.

During the concert at Richardson, Haley, along with fellow orchestra member Kate Dreyfuss, a violinist, and 33 community members ranging in age from 13 to 70 were given a unique opportunity to perform with ECCO. In a first-time collaboration between Princeton University Concerts and the community, amateur string players were invited to register to perform Benjamin Britten's "Simple Symphony for String Orchestra, Op.4" with ECCO.

Dreyfuss, who is majoring in French, was placed center stage next to another ECCO co-founder, violinist Nick Kendall, experiencing firsthand what it is like to perform in a professional concert setting.

"I think that Princeton students should take advantage of opportunities to interact with professional musicians," Dreyfuss said. "I believe that the future of classical music lies in dialogue between performers, whether they are amateurs or professionals, and just continuing to talk about why you love music and sharing that love of music by playing together and by teaching each other," she said.