Symphonic sounds come to Jackson Heights

Artistic Director and Founder Patricia Glunt of the Jackson Heights Orchestra
Courtesy Patricia Glunt
By Merle Exit

The Jackson Heights Orchestra, led by Artistic Director and Founder Patricia Glunt, will kick off its fifth season with a concert Wednesday, Dec. 14. In addition to playing music by Bach, Krommer and Mozart, the orchestra will perform a piece, Peri Mauer’s “All Along the Heights,” that was commissioned to celebrate its fifth birthday. Also featured is soloist Thomas Piercy on clarinet.

For Glunt, who serves as the conductor, the Jackson Heights Orchestra is the realization of a longtime goal. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “Having some free moments in my life, I decided to conduct a local orchestra in Jackson Heights through the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, whose mission is to preserve, restore, revitalize and maintain the community of Jackson Heights.”

Glunt, a former assistant principal from Long Island City High School and president of the Music Educators’ Association of New York, said she “wanted a venue where the amateur musicians could meet with like-minded people, rehearse and come together to play. It has now become a great journey for me and the community.” The orchestra practices once a week on a Tuesday evening with two months of rehearsals prior to a performance.

She describes the members of this adult community orchestra as a “mixed bag of semi-professionals and amateurs, as well as those who have played instruments during their high school or college education.” When Glunt first held auditions back in 2012, the orchestra only had nine members, leaving them scrambling to find nine more to be able to play their first concert.

Since then, the orchestra has expanded. “Presently, we have about 30 members,” she said, “with a focus on building up the string sections and filling up the lesser ones such as the bassoon, trombone and French horn. Woodwinds and brass tend to have two on each instrument.” There are times that she further reaches out when another instrumentalist is needed.

Glunt’s musical careet got started when she learned to play the violin as a small child. She attended a conservatory in California for her college education and attained her master’s degree in Music at Queens College. Having always played first violin, she preferred playing second violin for “the inner voicing of the instrument and parts” in later years.

At times she takes a break when her assistant, Dr. Steven L. Rosenhaus, conducts the orchestra. “It is important for the orchestra to see different people in front of it as well as being good for the audience to see the orchestra as its own entity,” she said.

That sense of seeing the musicians and the conductor as equal partners extends to her approach when she is the one holding the baton. Usually a conductor dictates exactly how thing are to be done. Glunt’s approach is to work with the possible interpretations that a soloist might want to bring to the table and then work from there. “Ultimately,” she said, “the group plays as one instrument.”

The concert will take place at 7:30 p.m.at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, located at 82nd Street and 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights. All are invited to the reception afterward. The concert is free, but there is a suggested donation of $10, $5 for seniors and students.

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