Erie Chamber Orchestra Announces 2014-2015 Season

Posted: September 18, 2014

Three concerts featuring works by living composers-with the composers present-a new recital series and the release of a new recording, the ensemble's first, highlight the 2014-15 season of the Erie Chamber Orchestra.

Led by music director Matthew Kraemer, the orchestra begins its 37th season of free concerts on Friday, September 19 with guest soloist Roberto Diaz, the director of the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music and the former leader of the viola section of the storied Philadelphia Orchestra, one of America's so-called "Big Five" Orchestras.

The appearance marks the second season in a row to open with a section leader from the Philadelphia Orchestra (last year, concertmaster David Kim had that distinction), and signals a commitment to both high-profile soloists and to the music of living American composers.

Other composers who will attend performances of their works include Erie Ewazen (for his Concerto for Marimba and String Orchestra in November) and Melinda Wagner (for her Concerto for Flute, Strings and Percussion in June).

The recital series, named for and endowed by the late, beloved Gannon University staffer and music lover Joe Luckey, will begin on Monday, September 15 with the ECO's new concertmaster, Maureen Conlon-Gutierrez. The series will include a February performance of Stravinsky's "A Soldier's Tale," narrated by renowned film and television actor Harry Lennix; "Prelude to the Dream," an interdisciplinary performance and lecture by pianist and educator Martha Summa-Chadwick, D.M.A. in April; and a recital of music in October drawn from the ECO recording of music by the film composer J.S. Zamecnik, that had not been performed live in more than 100 years.

The integration of the Monday evening recitals with midweek outreach and educational events, and culminating in the traditional Friday performance of the ECO is an attempt to build what ECO General Manager Steven Weiser calls a "mini-festival, a week-long immersion in music that expands our audience and brings our music to more of the community."

The nine-concert ECO schedule honors the traditions of the ensemble, including the December holiday concert and the annual concert commemorating the Martin Luther King Day holiday, but builds on them.

The holiday concert will continue the beloved practice of a sing along, but will include more of the great music of the season. The King Day concert in January will honor Dr. King's memory, but also include a performance of Peter Boyer's moving "Ellis Island."

Among the traditions to be honored is the practice, inaugurated by ECO founding music director Bruce Morton Wright, of making all concerts free and open to all community members.

Other concerts in the ECO 2014-15 series will include an innovative multimedia presentation around Beethoven's revolutionary "Eroica" symphony in February, a presentation modeled on the acclaimed series pioneered by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and a semi-staged presentation of Mozart's operatic masterpiece, "The Magic Flute," in March that will feature nationally prominent soloists.

One break with tradition this season is the adoption of a permanent site for the ECO's Friday evening concert series. Eight of the nine concerts will be in the Cathedral Prep auditorium, a location with excellent acoustics and sightlines, and more importantly, abundant seating. The ECO has traditionally offered concerts in a variety of churches and other venues, which, due to the increasing popularity of the series, have not always been able to accommodate the volume of persons who wished to attend.

"As the Erie Chamber Orchestra proudly begins its 37th season of free concerts for the community, we are delighted to offer even more opportunities for our audiences to immerse themselves in great performances. In a season brimming with beloved masterworks and exciting local premieres, the ECO is inaugurating the Joe Luckey Recital Series. These Monday evening performances, featuring ECO musicians and esteemed guests, mark the beginning of festival weeks for the orchestra; weeks filled with free concerts, guest speakers, and masterclasses, all of which are open to the public," said Kraemer.