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A session with the masters

BC High student plays with, composes for, New York Philharmonic

It is the goal of thousands of musicians to play in a group like the New York Philharmonic. Not many accomplish it during high school.

But Bethlehem High School senior Eric Segerstrom earlier this month not only sat in with those world-renowned players, they performed a piece he wrote just for them.

The Philharmonic played Segerstrom's From the Catacombs, a haunting, but also bold, exposition running at about two minutes and focused on the marimba. It was written as part of the New York Youth Symphony's "Making Score" program and performed on Wednesday, Feb. 2.

Segerstrom played the piece's marimba solo at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center Plaza.

"It's really like a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing to play a solo part with the New York Philharmonic," Segerstrom said. "It's really incredible and amazing."

The opportunity came to Segerstrom through his participation in the Julliard School's pre-college program. Every Saturday, he travels to the city to the exclusive program, which also offers unique connections to the music world.

Through his mentor there, a philharmonic member saw Segerstrom's compositions and invited him to write a piece for the young composers program.

A percussionist, Segerstrom levitated to the marimba, though he had the option of writing to any instrument.

"Rhythm is a huge focus in a lot of my pieces," he said. "But I've written for almost everything."

The BC High School senior's work has also been performed at Boston University by the music ensemble The Fourth Wall and at the Percussive Arts Society convention in New York City.

His Philharmonic performance was almost hampered by a snowstorm, but Segerstrom stayed overnight in the city from Tuesday to Wednesday to be available to perform. His family, including his sister, who studies violin performance at New York University, were able to attend.

Segerstrom is now focused on auditioning for college. He plans to continue his musical studies and has applied to prestigious institutions, including Julliard. His senior recital at Julliard is also coming up on April 2.

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