The Astoria Symphony Orchestra Celebrates An End To An Era

BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
Staff Writer

After conducting concerts, education programs and musical community outreach for more than a decade, Maestro Silas Huff will conduct his last concert on March 30.

The Astoria Symphony Orchestra’s last concert under the direction of Huff will also be a celebration of his time and contributions.

A native of San Antonio, Texas, Huff moved to Astoria after 10 years of experience in music and founded the ASO in 2002, because he said he witnessed “a musical community with no anchor.”

“I moved to New York with no job, no money and no connections,” Huff said, “But every day, I met great musicians who wanted to make music in Astoria. So we made music.”

After he formed the ASO, musicians came from all five boroughs, Connecticut and New Jersey to play music in Astoria, Huff said.

Within two years of its inception, the musicians had evolved from unpaid hobbyists to aspiring professionals that were paid a small stipend. The group later developed into a professional ensemble.

“Since then, we have performed more than 140 concerts together,” Huff said.

Huff said his long journey conducting with the ASO has been a great one.

“I still don’t know where it ends,” Huff said. “The Astoria Symphony Orchestra is a big part of my history and success. I feel like a proud parent—I will miss this group badly, but I know the ASO’s brilliant musicians will continue to do great work without me.”

Board President Alex Lauren said that with Huff’s leadership and experience, the ASO has become an important musical force in Queens.

“Our patrons come to concerts and support local businesses that support us, and we contract musicians who spend their hard-earned money in Queens,” she said. “To date, we have paid over $480,000 to local musicians.”

Huff’s final concert will include Richard Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll,” excerpts from Felix Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “‘Great’ Mass” in C minor. The Astoria Symphonic Choir, under the direction of Adam Eggleston, will accompany the ASO and soloists, including Megan Pachecano (soprano), Emily Ross-Johnson (soprano), Byron Singleton (tenor) and Matthew Singer (baritone).

The concert will start at 5 p.m. at the Mount Carmel Institute, located at 23-20 Newtown Ave., in Astoria. The concert will close with a free reception in Huff’s honor. To order discounted tickets or to learn how to support the Astoria Music Society, visit www.AstoriaMusic.org.

Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, tsakhuja@queenstribune.com, or @Tsakhuja13.