CLARKSVILLE – The Gateway Chamber Orchestra is celebrating Mozart’s love affair with the clarinet. For the opening of its 2014-15 season, Gateway will present Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major, an autumnal work that’s renowned for its symphonic brilliance and lyrical invention. Charles Neidich, one of the world’s foremost clarinetists and a noted Mozart interpreter, will join the GCO for performances next week in Clarksville and Nashville.
“It’s no accident that we play a lot of Mozart,” says GCO music director Gregory Wolynec. “We want the sort of precision and nuance that characterizes his music to be a hallmark of our sound.”
A professor at the Juilliard School in New York City, Neidich first captured the international spotlight in 1985, when he won the prestigious Naumburg Competition. In the years since, he has developed a reputation both for his thoughtful interpretations of the classics and for his devotion to contemporary music. The great clarinetist is currently in residence at Austin Peay State University, hence his availability to perform next week with the GCO.
The Gateway Chamber Orchestra got its start in 2008, when music faculty at Austin Peay decided to celebrate the age of musical modernism with a performance of Arnold Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1. That performance was a success, and the musicians decided to establish Gateway as a permanent ensemble with a regular subscription series in Clarksville.
Last season, the orchestra added concerts in Nashville to its subscription series. The group quickly developed a small but loyal following in Music City for its adventurous programs, which usually include a mix of masterworks, lost treasures along with the music of living American composers. The group has released three critically acclaimed CDs – the most recent features a recording of Carl Reinecke’s Cello Concerto with cellist Michael Samis.
Neidich and the GCO will perform the Mozart concerto twice, at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14 at the Mabry Concert Hall at Austin Peay, and at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 15 at Nashville’s Downtown Presbyterian Church, 154 5th Ave., North. True to its programming mission, GCO will also perform one contemporary American piece, composer John Corigliano’s Voyage, along with a lost treasure, the 19th century French female composer Louise Farrenc’s Symphony No. 3.
GCO’s 2014-15 season is designed to showcase the ensemble’s versatility and flexibility. The group can perform Mahler as a full-fledged chamber orchestra, and it can play as a small wind or string ensemble. The orchestra’s October concerts are intended to show off the wind section. The program will include Alec Wilder’s Serenade for Winds, Georges Enescu’s Dixtuor and Antonin Dvorak’s Serenade in D minor, Op. 44. Performances are 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26 at the Mabry Concert Hall at Austin Peay, and at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27 at Nashville’s Downtown Presbyterian Church, 154 5th Ave., North.
Wolynec and the GCO deserve kudos for rediscovering one of Nashville’s hidden gems, the ornate Freemasons Auditorium at the Grand Lodge of Tennessee. The orchestra will appear at the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9, performing the Symphony No. 32 of that great musical Mason, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The orchestra will also perform Christopher Theofanidis’ Visions and Miracles along with Mendelssohn’s evergreen Symphony No. 3 “Scottish.” GCO performs this program at 3 p.m. Feb. 8 at Austin Peay.
GCO ends its season in April with the terrific mezzo-soprano Teresa Buchholz singing Luciano Berio’s Folks Songs. Buchholz appeared with the GCO in 2013 in a memorable rendition of Mahler’s Das Lied von Der Erde. Those of us who were lucky enough to hear that concert will no doubt make every effort to hear her Berio. That program will also include Young Composer Competition winner Christopher Chandler’s Deep in Liquid Indigo, Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. Concerts are 3 p.m. April 19 at Austin Peay and 7:30 p.m. April 20 at Downtown Presbyterian Church.
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