A high note for Everett

They’ve played in Austria. They’ve toured Italy. A China appearance may be in their future.

But the Everett Symphony Orchestra had never made it to the top of the heap.

Until now.

Members of Everett’s symphony played at New York City’s Carnegie Hall for the first time Tuesday night. As anyone knows, playing Carnegie means you’ve made it, baby. You are at the top of your game. A success.

In fact, the Everett Symphony hit the trifecta for success: It played Carnegie, it got a packed house and it got a standing ovation at the end.

“I don’t think it gets any better than that,” said symphony Maestro Paul-Elliott Cobbs in a phone interview immediately after the concert.

“Everett can be proud,” Cobbs said. “This is the Everett Symphony, your own symphony, and we did it in New York where the bar is so much higher.”

Cobbs said the orchestra played with more energy than he’s ever seen.

“This was a great one,” Cobbs said. “We could have played the whole thing over again.”

One of the symphony’s selected pieces is dear to Cobbs: William Grant Still’s “Afro-American Symphony.”

Cobbs studied that symphony for his doctorate. After the Everett Symphony performed the piece, Still’s daughter was so moved that she gave Cobbs the original score.

Cobbs used that original score Tuesday night.

“We owned that piece,” Cobbs said.

Mary Knoll, who plays first violin, called Cobbs the most well-known interpreter of the “Afro-American Symphony.”

“Cobbs’ expertise with this particular piece of music makes this performance a fitting one,” Knoll said.

Knoll said the acoustics in the Isaac Stern Auditorium were so startlingly beautiful that some orchestra members’ jaws dropped when they began playing Verdi’s Overture to “La Forza del Destino.”

“Everything went so well,” Knoll said. “There were no big mishaps and people played beautifully.”

A minor mishap occurred when one of the members left his tux in the hotel lobby and had to immediately rent another for $120.

The Everett Symphony made it through Carnegie Hall’s rigorous application process to be invited to play as part of the Ensemble Spotlight Series.

The symphony performed not only its own repertoire, but also Italian pieces with soprano Vernica Murua, mezzo-soprano Carla Lpez-Speziale and pianist John Pickett.

In addition to the Verdi piece, the symphony played Rossini’s “Cruda sorte!” from “L’Italiana in Algeri.”

The symphony’s own repertoire for the performance was the “Afro-American Symphony” and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Before symphony members took off for New York, violinist and personnel manager Janalene Simpson had this to say about playing Carnegie:

“It’s not for real. I never thought it would happen in my lifetime, and I’ve been playing with the symphony for 58 years.”

Arts writer Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424 or goffredo@ heraldnet.com.

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