NRO presents ‘Gershwin and Tchaikovsky’ Saturday |

NRO presents ‘Gershwin and Tchaikovsky’ Saturday

Daily News staff report
Andrew Litton

Breckenridge-based National Repertory Orchestra presents its “Gershwin and Tchaikovsky” performance featuring guest conductor Andrew Litton at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Riverwalk Center.

Litton is music director of Norway’s Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, artistic director of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest, and conductor laureate of Britain’s Bournemouth Symphony. He guest-conducts the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies and has a discography of almost 100 recordings, including a Grammy and other honors.

“This is an incredible opportunity for all of us attending to perform a vast amount of orchestral literature and chamber music with highly regarded conductors such as Litton. The fact that we are in such a gorgeous setting is an added bonus,” said Amanda Sparfeld, a flutist with the NRO this summer. “This concert will be a thrill; not only will we be performing Tchaikovsky’s ‘Symphony No. 5’ under his baton, but Litton will also be the solo pianist for Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’.”

The concert is an exercise in contrasts: the first half of the program offers jazz-inspired music of the early 20th century, while the second half presents the highly romantic “Symphony No. 5” by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The show opens with Dmitri Kabalevsky’s “Colas Breugnon,” a rarely performed number with pleasant, jazzy syncopations. This is followed by George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” a one-movement concert jazz concerto that bought American jazz and pop into the concert hall. “Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64” provides a finale to the concert.

This concert is special in that it is dedicated to long-term NRO supporter Eileen Finkel. Finkel served as head usher of the NRO for more than 10 years, and died from complications of Acute Myeloid Leukemia in May. Still devastated by the loss of her friend, Linda Hagne, who ushered along Finkel’s side said, “This is a huge loss to our community. Words are not enough to describe the person she was. She was positive, supportive, and most of all, generous. She was passionate about music and Breckenridge, and she will be greatly missed.”

“We get to know our supporters individually, and it is like we become a family,” said NRO director of marketing and development Julie Chandler. “We miss Eileen greatly, and are especially sorrowful for Paul Finkel’s loss. He remains in our thoughts.”

Finkel was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from Queens College in 1964 and later received a master’s degree in education from Hunter College. She devoted her career to education, spending time as a special education teacher in Connecticut, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and New York. She also spent time as a school administrator in Texas before retiring in Breckenridge.

For ticket information and purchase call the Riverwalk Center Box Office at (970) 547-3100. Ticket purchase may also be made by visiting the National Repertory Orchestra’s website at

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