HomeFeaturesNEHS grad Blake looking forward to Wednesday night Phila. Orchestra concert

NEHS grad Blake looking forward to Wednesday night Phila. Orchestra concert

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Holly Blake is really looking forward to the Philadelphia Orchestra’s presentation of Our City, Your Orchestra Live, a free concert on Wednesday, May 31, at 7 p.m. in the stadium at Northeast High School.

Blake, who plays bassoon and contrabassoon in the orchestra, is a 1974 Northeast graduate.

“It’s very exciting to go back there,” she said.

This won’t be the first time Blake will be performing at her alma mater, having taken part in a 2017 orchestra concert in the stadium.

“It was fun to be back,” she said.

Wednesday night’s concert will feature works by Leonard Bernstein, John Williams, Valerie Coleman and others, along with a performance by the Northeast High marching band.

“It’s a nice selection of music that’s easy to listen to,” Blake said.

Blake, who grew up on Benson Street in Fox Chase, said it should also be exciting for patrons to see a free, full, 90-member-strong orchestra concert in a neighborhood setting.

“It’s a great chance to hear an orchestra in your own backyard,” she said. “It’s great that it’s so accessible.”

The evening will include food trucks, games, face painting, moonbounces and balloon art.

Blake – whose husband, Mark Gigliotti, plays the bassoon in the orchestra – hopes the crowd enjoys the show and comes to see the orchestra at its home at the Kimmel Center. The class of ‘74 is beginning to plan its 50th reunion, and Blake hopes to see some former classmates in the stadium crowd.

Blake’s musical career began when she started playing the piano at age 7. Two years later, she picked up the clarinet.

At Woodrow Wilson Junior High, she began to play the bassoon. That’s when she really began to love music, giving credit to teacher Joseph Simon. In her ninth-grade yearbook, she listed her ambition as someday being a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Blake said she also learned a lot from Northeast music teacher Harry Giamo. Back in the 1960s and ‘70, she said, Philadelphia public schools had excellent music programs.

“They really provided solid backgrounds at an early age,” she said.

Blake earned a music degree from Temple and completed studies at Curtis Institute of Music, performed for a couple of years in an orchestra in Venezuela and has taught at the University of Delaware and Trenton State College.

In 1992, she won an audition to join the Philadelphia Orchestra and has been with the group ever since.

“It was exciting to realize my life dream,” she said.

Blake is also a certified yoga teacher who said she utilizes a lot of the practices when she plays and teaches music.

A Wyncote resident, she is also very close with her family, ranging in age from her 98-year-old mom to her 4-year-old and 7-month-old grandkids.

Reserve tickets for Wednesday night’s concert at philorch.org. ••

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