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Sony strikes up the band

Event benefits three local charities

The studio orchestra, a fixture in the mid-20th-century days of the Toscanini-led NBC Orchestra and many more, got a classy revival Tuesday night at Carnegie Hall.

The Sony Philharmonic Orchestra was launched 12 years ago and comprises Japanese employees, mostly engineers. Aside from giving many members their first taste of the Big Apple, the night also benefited three local charities supporting arts education.

An Alan Alda-narrated video about the orchestra and remarks by Sony topper Howard Stringer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg preceded the program of Dvorak, Berlioz and Tchaikovsky. British conductor Daniel Harding took the baton and cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed.

Stringer said the night was originally conceived as an expression of Sony United, the team-building slogan he introduced three years ago as part of his bid to remake the sprawling multinational company. “I wasn’t to know then that the roof was to fall in on the world’s financial markets,” he said. Even so, he added, “this is a celebration of the things we can do to help bring the United States and the world back. In that spirit, you should all give yourselves a group hug.”

Bloomberg drew a prolonged cheer by pledging the city would “continue to make arts education a priority for students across our city even during these tough economic times.” Pausing to bask in the applause, he joked, “I know how to play to the crowd.”