The excitement was palpable just before the Yo-Yo Ma concert at SUNY Fredonia Thursday night.
Staff and audience, parents and performers chatted excitedly in the lobby as the concert was about to begin. Children, professors, alumni and students all eagerly joined the line to take their seats in King Concert Hall.
The crowd was amazed at the number of people attending the concert, but most were just excited to see the performance of the symphony orchestra with famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Paul Swensen, the first cellist in the symphony orchestra, performed a solo at the master's class Wednesday and said he was very nervous.
"It was nerve wracking ... but I've been working with that; it's been improving but I think ... this is probably the most people I've played for by myself like that," he said after a solo performance of Antonin Dvorak's Cello Concerto in B Minor, the same as Ma's the following night.
"He's such a nice guy and it's comforting to be around him. It was nice to play for him," Swensen said about Ma.
Yo-Yo Ma, the world-renowned cellist visited SUNY Fredonia to play in concert with the college’s symphony orchestra. Performers and audience alike were enthralled by his presence.
Swensen's parents, Marilyn and Mark of Long Island said that they were very proud of their son.
"It was extraordinary," Mark said, describing Wednesday's performance and critique. "Yo-Yo Ma, when I first watched him, he was a showman, he was fooling around and then he started in on critiquing Paul and he was wonderfully insightful, he went right into Paul's strong points ... and then he started talking about getting Paul's imagination into the piece ... It was fascinating," he said.
As the orchestra began to warm up, the crowd took their seats to enjoy the performance of Johann Strauss's Overture to Die Fledermaus and Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar.
After the intermission Yo Yo Ma took the stage as the cello soloist in Antonin Dvorak's Cello Concerto in B Minor. Ma took the opportunity as he walked on stage to shake some students' hands and hug conductor Dr. David Rudge.
The song left the audience riveted in awe as it crescendoed with strings and then faded to Ma's cello and a lonely flute.
Ma noticeably watched the students nearest to him when his solo slowed and the students in turn watched Ma as his playing quickened and became more intense.
After an encore, Ma was very gracious in sharing his applause with each section of the orchestra in turn.