Local orchestra to make triumphant return

Passionate maestro leads performance at library

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Returning to the stage after two years of pandemic shutdown, Bay Area Friends of Fine Arts’ (BAFFA) orchestra will be performing at the Bayport-Blue Point Library on Saturday, May 28 at 3 p.m. under the expert, expansive, and endearing direction of conductor Richard Wright.

Rehearsals for the performance began in February 2022, after the orchestra had not met since March 2020.

As recipients of fund grants, the BAFFA chorus and orchestra were still required to have performances and opted to do recordings, to be streamed by their patrons at their own convenience.

“We posted recordings of previous concerts and I provided the history of each piece,” said Wright. “So we were still able to give something to the patrons, but there’s nothing [like] dressing up and going to a hall.”

The orchestra has all the necessary components for a full recital, including a smaller but robust strings section, woodwinds, and brass.

“We wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable with performing in public and what that would entail,” said Wright.

Among some of the departures were local college students who were no longer around to participate in the orchestra.

For the May 28th concert, Wright has decided to open with by Franz Schubert whose, Symphony No. 8 is often referred to as his “unfinished” piece.

“There was a connection to the unfinished business of 2020, so in playing this piece we are finishing the unfinished business,” said Wright.

Also playing along pandemic themes is Schubert’s “Rosamunde,” which is a transformation from the dramatic to a place of happiness.

“Another simile for the pandemic, as we’re coming out of an age of isolation and darkness in performing arts,” said Wright.

Nineteenth-century composer Alexander Borodin will also be on the set list, with “In the Steppes of Central Asia,” a pastoral approach to the nature in fields and mountains that Wright described as a “slow and quiet piece.”

Finally, there will be Beethoven’s only opera, “Fidelio,” which Wright hopes will leave the audience satisfied as a well-known piece.

“What I hope audiences take away is a sense of a significant, respectable performance, not just entertainment,” said Wright, adding, “I want the audience to feel educated and uplifted.”

With most of the arts world—Broadway, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall—all shuttered for the pandemic, Wright felt that “true healing will begin when arts are finally back.”

Wright is a professor of music and chair of the department at Suffolk Community College in Selden, a position he has held for over 20 years, and came into it upon graduating with his doctoral degree from Northwestern University.

Wright had decided by the age of 14 that he wanted to be a conductor and also have a family. As a parent and professor, he motivates his children and his students to follow their passions, because “if you do what you love you’ll, one, always be happy, and two, because you love it, it will always be the best, so people will pay you to do it.”

As the conductor of BAFFA’s orchestra for over 10 years, Wright has expressed unbound appreciation for the organization for “making my boyhood dreams come true.”

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