June Andrews has spent a lifetime preparing her piano students to reach for their dreams. During Saturday evening’s Albemarle Symphony Orchestra concert, she will be fulfilling one of her own.
Andrews, a longtime Crozet resident, has performed with church choirs and other ensembles over the years, but she always hoped she’d get an opportunity to perform while surrounded by brass, woodwind, percussion and string players.
As part of AARP’s “Wish of a Lifetime” program, the 92-year-old will join music director Philip Clark and the 50-member symphony on stage in Grisham Hall at St. Anne’s-Belfield School to perform the first movement of Alec Rowley’s “Miniature Concerto” for piano and orchestra.
“When you see something like this, it’s a really heartfelt way to do music,” said William J. McCullough, the symphony’s president and executive director. “She really is something to behold. [The instrumentalists] like performing with her, and she likes performing with them.”
The “La Musique” program also will include the world premiere of Clark’s arrangement of Francis Poulenc’s “Clarinet Sonata, FP 184,” featuring clarinetist James Tobin as soloist, for clarinet and orchestra. The concerto originally was scored for clarinet and piano.
Also on the program will be “Fanfare” by Paul Dukas, Gabriel Fauré’s “Masques et Bergamasques, Suite, Op. 112,” Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Suite Algerienne” and, after intermission, Georges Bizet’s “L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2.”
The Albemarle Symphony has had a memorable year of its own. After performing since 2014 as Crozet Community Orchestra, the group changed its name last year to reflect its growth to include musicians from throughout Albemarle County.
McCullough said the orchestra simply had outgrown its beloved longtime space at Crozet Baptist Church, where it had presented its free concerts for years and continues to rehearse. Saturday’s concert brings to a close a season that included a record five concerts, and a successful partnership with St. Anne’s-Belfield School.
“The orchestra was growing and wanted to do bigger repertoire,” McCullough said. The move to Grisham Hall, among other advantages, gives Andrews the chance to perform on a concert grand piano, he said.
McCullough said he received a call late last year from Barry Gore of AARP’s “Wish of a Lifetime” program, who was looking for an orchestra in need of a piano soloist for a dream come true.
“June’s wish was to perform with a symphony orchestra, and I realized right away that this was in our wheelhouse,” he said. Clark and McCullough met with Andrews in December, and a couple of rehearsals later, they invited her to perform in the June 3 concert.
To find out more about AARP’s “Wish of a Lifetime,” go to wishofalifetime.org. The program has granted more than 2,400 wishes in all 50 states, helping older Americans achieve a wide range of meaningful milestones — including dreams to fly, to commemorate military service and to reunite with family members, fellow Holocaust survivors, fellow veterans and long-lost loves.
Admission is free, and donations are welcomed. To learn more about the concert, go to albemarlesymphony.org.