The Montclair Orchestra has formally announced it’s inaugural season, consisting of five concerts at venues throughout Montclair.
The inaugural concert will take place on October 22nd at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church on South Fullerton Street in Montclair. An orchestra of 80 musicians will present an ambitious program of Operatic Connections, an homage to new Music Director David Chan’s background as concertmaster for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in Manhattan. The program will open with a forceful declaration in the overture to Verdi’s La forza del destino (The Force of Destiny), followed by Mozart’s Symphony #29, with song-like themes throughout the piece. The second half of the concert will present Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, often billed as a ‘pastoral’ work. Internationally acclaimed soprano Ying Fang will make an appearance between her engagements at the MET and the National Opera to sing the solo role in the final movement, a role she recently performed with the New York Philharmonic.
The orchestra selected Saint Luke’s Church as the venue for the first concert in recognition of the roots of the orchestra in Montclair. Nearly one hundred years ago, the first Montclair Orchestra was organized by musicians at Saint Luke’s, with performances including a 1922 event at Montclair Art Museum. Soon after, the orchestra merged with other music groups in the area, ultimately moving to Newark and becoming the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, now the largest professional orchestra in the state.
According to orchestra president Andre Weker, “Since inception, we have deliberately reached out to many corners of the Montclair community, to play a part in connecting different communities, different organizations. Part of that includes recognizing the history of music in Montclair, in which Saint Luke’s plays an important role.”
Moving past the first event, the second concert will take place on December 10th at Immaculate Conception on North Fullerton Street. In this event, the theme of Changewill explore three pieces from very different time periods ranging from the Baroque, in Vivaldi’s well known The Four Seasons, to modern, in Arvo Pärt’s Fratres (1983). In this work Pärt creates a mesmerizing, hypnotic sense of moods using strings and percussion; the piece has been used several times in various forms in different films.
In February of 2018, a program of Contrasts will be on display at the intimate Leshowitz Hall at Montclair State University’s Cali School of Music. Wagner’s Siegfried-Idyll, a lush large-chamber work of depth and texture, stands in stark contrast to the dramatic and pointed music of Shostakovich’s Two Pieces for String Octet. To expand the imagination even further, Wynton Marsalis’ A Fiddler’s Tale will take over. Marsalis premiered this technically demanding piece in 1998, as a ‘reimagining’ of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale nearly one hundred years earlier. Three narrators will tell the story of a fiddler who sells his soul to the devil to sell more records, with the solidly jazz-inspired music demonstrating the range and abilities of the musicians.
Balletic Reinvention is the theme to the March 25, 2018 concert at Montclair State University’s Memorial Auditorium. The first half of the concert will contain the full version of Stravinsky’s music to the ballet Pulcinella, unusual in that it is typically performed in the condensed suite, and rarely in the complete version with vocalists. The three vocal soloists presented will be members of The Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Program. The second half of the program is Rodion Shchedrin’s incredibly lively Carmen Suite, written as a ballet in 1968 and based on the well-known themes to Bizet’s opera Carmen. The orchestra on stage includes four percussionists, playing a combined 24 different percussion instruments.
To finish out the season, the orchestra will return to St Luke’s on May 13, 2018 to present Tour of Colors, a theme that will invoke bright colorful music from Mozart in the Classical period of the late 18th century, to Tchaikovsky in the late 19th century, and Ravel in the early 20th century. The finale is Milhaud’s early 20th century film-score Le bœuf sul le toit, originally written as music for a Charlie Chaplin silent film. This energetic work has all the hallmarks of the music of the period, recreating the frenetic energy of a city in motion. The end of the season film-inspired finale is also a nod to the Montclair Film Festival, which will be ending the weekend prior.
Donors to the orchestra have access to tickets now; tickets go on sale to the general public on July 1, 2017. Tickets can be purchased individually, or as season tickets for all five performances. Information on ticket pricing and donor discounts can be found on the orchestra website at www.montclairorchestra.org.