Summit Community Orchestra hosts fall concert under new leadership
If you go
What: Summit Community Orchestra Fall Concert
When: 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16
Where: Dillon Community Church, 371 La Bonte St., Dillon
Cost: Free, donates gratefully accepted
More information: Visit www.summitorchestra.org
The Summit Community Orchestra will host its fall concert at the Dillon Community Church on Sunday, Nov. 16, at 4 p.m., under the baton of new director Lt. Col. (Ret.) Beth Steele. The repertoire for the evening features an eclectic mix of works ranging from Baroque and classical to contemporary and even a Broadway tune.
After longtime conductor Kenny Evans stepped down from his leadership role with the Summit Community Orchestra, the podium passed to Luke Fatora, 23, the youngest person to hold the position. Fatora returned to school in San Francisco this fall, and Steele, who also conducts the Summit Concert Band, took the reins.
“We were in need of a conductor, and they called and said would you like to do this?” Steele said. “I’m very interested in making sure our community has good music, vital community music. I started as a violinist way back as a kid, and I love orchestra music.”
Steele has served as commandant of the U.S. Army School of Music, deputy commander and associate conductor of the U.S. Army Field Band, the “Musical Ambassadors of the Army,” and, most recently, as the commander of the U.S. Army Europe Band & Chorus in Heidelberg, Germany. She said the difference between conducting bands and the orchestra comes down to the difference in literature.
“Orchestra music goes back a long way,” Steele said. “This concert is focused on chamber music, mostly strings the majority of the concert. With the band, I do a lot of modern, contemporary music, written in the last 40 to 60 years. With the orchestra, it’s several hundred years old.”
Janet Harriman, the orchestra’s harpist, said having Steele as the new orchestra conductor is “perfect.”
“She’s so involved in the community; she’s retired here,” Harriman said. “She’s got the time, the knowledge, the energy. We’ve put this fall program together to feature her as our new conductor. She’s a great addition to this community. She’s come only two years ago and committed and dived right in there. She’s doing a great job.”
The Summit Community Orchestra’s fall concert will feature soloists and small groups playing concertos by Handel, Vivaldi, Svendsen, Mozart and Schonberg. Harriman said there isn’t really an overall theme or thread, more a collection of pieces that showcase many longtime and new members of the orchestra.
“We’re featuring some of the top local players, so people can see that, wow, there’s some pretty good musicians here; they’ll be really impressed,” Harriman said. “We usually feature the young kids, so it’s kind of time. What’s interesting about this group is we get different people every year. They move into town, they come for the season, and they want to play. Some are really good; some haven’t played in a long time.”
The program begins with Vivaldi’s Concerto, Opus 3, No. 9, featuring principal cellist Jim Kohn accompanied by a small string orchestra, followed by Divertimento No. 3 by Mozart, performed by a trio of woodwinds including Mark Clark on bassoon, D.J. Woolsey on flute and newcomer Ken Cremer on clarinet.
“Ken Cremer retired from the East Coast, and he just moved into town,” Harriman said. “He’s ready to dive into the music scene and the ski scene that he loves. … (He) will bring great depth to the wind section.”
Svendsen’s “Romanze” continues the program, with Natalie Koob on violin and Adrienne Sielaff on piano. Broadway takes its turn near the end of the evening, with Steele’s arrangement of Schonberg’s “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserables,” featuring Harriman on harp and Kohn on cello, backed by a trio of Cecile Forsberg on violin, Cremer on clarinet and Clark on bassoon.
“Anybody who’s seen ‘Les Mis’ will recognize it,” Steele said. “Jean Valjean’s killed on the ramparts, and this is his lament to bring his son home, bring my son home and take me instead. It was originally written for piano and cello, but it works very well with harp and cello.”
The concert will close with Handel’s Konzert in B-dur Op. 4, No. 6, featuring Harriman on the harp in a virtuoso adaptation. Harriman said she introduced the piece to the orchestra as an option before anything else was programmed for the concert.
“It’s a piece that young kids play,” she said. “It’s technically hard, there’s no downtime. I teach this concerto all the time to my students, who are auditioning it for college, so it’s good for me to perform it.”
ORCHESTRA FOR ALL
Harriman said performing a concert that’s a collection of concertos and solos would help encourage others in the orchestra to step forward and want to be featured. As a community group, anyone has the opportunity to be a star.
“It’s kind of neat how the community orchestra is becoming a tool for people to use, not for their own benefit, but after last year’s spring concert people asked, can I do a concerto with the orchestra next year?” Harriman said. “This is a great place for them to do a concerto because there’s no pressure. And then it gives them a place to play.”
The concert, though not long, includes an interesting collection of music, Harriman said, and hopefully there’s something for everyone, from the classical purists to lovers of more contemporary arrangements
“It’s music you often don’t get to hear, actually,” Steele said. “It’s got a nice variety, enough to be entertaining, and it’ll be well played. It takes us all back in time when small chamber orchestras entertained in homes.”
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