New Music Director Gabriel Lefkowitz will conduct the Oak Ridge Community Orchestra in September performances of compositions by Tchaikovsky, Khachaturian, and Sibelius.
During the September 13 concert, the orchestra will play the “Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture” by Tchaikovsky, “Adagio from Spartacus” by Khachaturian, and “The Karelia Suite” by Sibelius, a press release said.
“This is some of the finest orchestra music one can listen to,” the release said.
The free ORCO concert will be performed in the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church of Oak Ridge at 2 p.m. Saturday, September 13. ￼It will be Lefkowitz’s debut with the ORCO as music director and conductor.
Lefkowitz replaces Will Burkhart as music director and conductor. Burkhart has turned his attention to pursuing a degree in medicine, the press release said.
A native of the Boston area, Lefkowitz is a conductor, violinist, and composer who now lives in Knoxville, where he serves as concertmaster of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.
Lefkowitz has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in music and economics, and a master’s in violin performance from the Julliard School. He studied conducting formally at the prestigious Pierre Monteux School in Maine during the summers of 2011 and 2012, the press release said.
During the 2014 -2015 season, Lefkowitz will be a featured soloist with the KSO, and he will host three solo/chamber recital programs at the Knoxville Museum of Art as part of the KSO’s highly successful new concert series, Gabriel Lefkowitz and Friends, the release said.
“Please take the opportunity to personally meet Gabriel in the reception following the September 13 concert,” it said.
The press release includes a description of the music to be performed at the concert:
- As Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was just beginning his composing career, the “Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture” was one of his earlier projects. He struggled through three iterations, with debut performances of the different versions in March 1870, February 1872, and May 1886, respectively. But, the final result was one of his more impressive works. The symphonic poem in sonata form outlines the content of the Shakespearean play of the same name. Beginning with the saintly Friar Laurence theme, it eventually transitions into agitation depicting the warring Capulet and Montague families. This section features strong punctuation by brass and crashing cymbals, which Tchaikovsky always seems to use so effectively. Out of that turmoil, the famous melody of the Romeo and Juliet love theme emerges. The battle strand returns with greater intensity, and the love theme attempts to overcome the conflict, only to end in a tragic double suicide denoted by two strong orchestra hits marked by cymbal crashes. A reprise of the conflicting themes attains the final climax with a dramatic section of tympani rolls. As with most of Tchaikovsky’s memorable compositions, the orchestration evokes great emotional involvement for the listener.
- Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978) was a Soviet-Armenian composer and conductor. He is considered one of the leading Soviet composers and the most renowned Armenian composer of the 20th century. He wrote the “Spartacus” ballet in 1954. It follows the exploits of Spartacus, the leader of the slave uprising against the Romans known as the Third Servile War. In “Act II,” Spartacus frees his people from the Romans, and with his wife, Phrygia, celebrates the escape in the beautiful “Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia.” This composition has intense, emotional phrases, accentuated with numerous artistic retards and accelerations in the tempo. As you listen, it will be easy to imagine the two dancers executing flowing ballet movements and striking poses.
- Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) was a Finnish composer of the later Romantic period, whose music played an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity. His mastery of the orchestra has been described as “prodigious.” In 1893, he was commissioned by a students’ association to write a “Tableau” of nine orchestral movements as incidental music for a festive celebration on the university campus. This is one of his earliest compositions, and it drew heavily on Finnish folk music for its themes. Later, he extracted his favorite elements from the “Tableau” and published them as the popular, three-movement “Karelia Suite,” named after his favorite province in Finland. The first movement, “Intermezzo,” with its allegro lilt, portrays marching contingents. “Ballade” pictures a bard entertaining the 15th-century Swedish king, Karl Knutsson, reminiscing in his castle. The third movement, “Alla Marcia,” is a zesty march that is virtually identical to the original “Tableau 5½.”
To enjoy these compositions, join the concert on Saturday, September 13, at 2 p.m. in the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church of Oak Ridge, on the corner of the Oak Ridge Turnpike and Lafayette Drive. Admission is free. But, modest donations at the door to support the orchestra’s routine operating expenses will be appreciated.
The Oak Ridge Community Orchestra (ORCO) is a 501(c)3, nonprofit, volunteer organization. Anyone wishing to regularly participate in the orchestra is encouraged to contact Personnel Manager Cyndi Jeffers at [email protected].
“Usually, we can accommodate additional string players, and occasionally there are openings in the brass, woodwind, and percussion sections,” the press release said. “The orchestra welcomes experienced musicians of all ages.”
The Oak Ridge Community Orchestra is a rewarding venue for instrumentalists who enjoy playing for an appreciative audience, with music ranging from Baroque through Classical to Contemporary, the release said. For more information about the ORCO visit www.OakRidgeCommunityOrchestra.com.