When Mayor McNamara welcomed the Cambridge Civic Symphony on the occasion of its debut in Sanders Theatre last night, he voiced the justifiable pride of a Cantabridgian in this important even for the community. As President Pusey, who followed the Mayor, observed, civic symphonies are spreading throughout the country, and Cambridge, as a "center of high civilization" has been long overdue for one of its own. To everyone's relief and pleasure, the orchestra proved in its first concert to be a very fine one, capable of handling major works in an assured and professional fashion.
Under the leadership of Victor Manusevitch, a first violinist with the Boston Symphony, whose energy and perseverance has been largely responsible for the formation of the Orchestra, the musicians successfully combined an amateur enthusiasm with a very high level of competence.
The program was ambitious and familiar, the only big surprise being a rare performance of the nine bars which were to be the Scherzo of the Schubert Unfinished Symphony. The first two movements were given a measured, careful reading which was typical of the whole performance. The concert opened with Corelli's Concerto Grosso Op.6, No.1, giving the strings a chance to shine, followed by a gracious but strong Beethoven 8th Symphony. The closing number, Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Overture called upon the sonority and balanced ensemble work which is perhaps the orchestra's greatest asset.
The next concert will be a special children's concert in Sanders this Saturday afternoon, an indication that the Orchestra is already taking on various community responsibilities. Cambridge can look forward with satisfaction to the many benefits and possibilities offered by a civic orchestra, and be grateful for such an excellent start under Mr. Manusevitch.