Lexington Chamber Orchestra launching third season featuring works by Mendelssohn, Schubert

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The Lexington Chamber Orchestra will launch its third season with a weekend concert series on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 entitled “Sunset,” featuring the music of Mendelssohn, Respighi and Schubert.

The soloist will be soprano Catherine Clarke Nardolillo.

The Saturday evening performance will be at the Tates Creek Presbyterian Church while the Sunday matinee will repeat the program in The Lyric Theatre. Admission is free, with donations accepted at the door.

After the season-opening performances, the Saturday evening/Sunday matinee pattern will continue with concerts in November, February, and April. Soloists will include tenor Gregory Turay, South Korean violinist Kyung Sun Lee, and pianist Greg Partain.

In just under two years, the Lexington Chamber Orchestra has grown from a volunteer group to become a fully professional ensemble (Photo Provided)

Featured composers will be Mozart, J. S. Bach, Mahler, Piazzolla, Part, Janacek and Chopin.

In just under two years, the Lexington Chamber Orchestra has grown from a volunteer group to become a fully professional ensemble. Corporate and individual sponsors support a paid complement of musicians as well as a music director, who also serves as conductor.

The LCO operates as a nonprofit organization.

“Our first performance was a Christmas concert in December 2015 that we did with about fifteen musicians on a volunteer basis,” said LCO president Jonathan Crosmer. “Since then, we have seen increases in the number of musicians involved and in audience support. We now have a base of eighteen string players and varing numbers of other musicians depending on repertoire. Our audiences have grown to an average of about three-to-four hundred.”

In addition to his administrative duties with the LCO, Crosmer is also an accomplished musician and has played viola with the Lexington Philharmonic. He earned a doctorate in musical arts from the University of Nebraska.

Jan Pellant, a doctoral student in orchestra conducting at the University of Kentucky, is music director and conductor. A native of the Czech Republic who grew up in Japan, Pellant has the highest aspirations for the orchestra.

“This is my first opportunity to build an orchestra from the very beginning, and it’s fulfilling a dream for me to be doing this,” he said. “Since our first concert, our musicianship has continually improved. Through our rehearsals and performances the musicians are starting to play in complete harmony with one another, like one body.”

Competition for seats in the orchestra and an increasing stability in the lineup from performance to performance are important factors in the group’s evolving artistry.

“In the beginning, we had to recruit players from among musicians we knew,” said Crosmer. “But as word about us got around, we began to get emails from musicians wanting to join with us. Now we have auditions, which means we can be more selective and professional.”

Jessica Miskelly, an LCO violinist and Maryland native, is an example of the talented musicians with impressive backgrounds that have been drawn to the orchestra. All are professionals, and a number of them have appeared with the Lexington Philharmonic.

While completing her doctorate in music at UK Miskelly studied in London with a former concertmaster for the London and the New York philharmonics. She has played with the UK Symphony Orchestra and UK’s Niles String Quartet, a graduate ensemble, as well as with the Lexington Philharmonic.

“I’m very excited for Lexington to have a group of this caliber,” Miskelly said. “It’s been very encouraging to see the community rally around us, to feel the energy from the musicians and the audience. We fill a neat niche that I think is very sustainable.”

The addition this season of a Sunday matinee at The Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center is an important step in helping fulfill the LCO’s mission to be accessible to the entire Lexington community. It gives the orchestra exposure to a new audience in the city’s east end to complement the southern location at the Tates Creek Presbyterian Church.

The Lyric opened in 1948 in an era of racial segregation and was for many years the premiere entertainment venue for Lexington’s African American community. The Lyric drew such top national acts as Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Ike and Tina Tuner, and Ray Charles.

Donald Mason, executive director of The Lyric, said the LCO will be the first serial engagement of a classical ensemble for a season at the theater. Other classical groups, including the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra and the Lexington Philharmonic, have played spot engagements.

“The Lyric and the Lexington Chamber Orchestra want to work with each other and help each other grow,” Mason said. “While our mission is to promote, preserve, and present artistic programming with the African American heritage at the forefront, we also want to be a place for the appreciation of all areas of high art forms.”

The LCO has a broad mission of connecting people with great art through the beauty of chamber music. Pellant believes the compact size of a chamber orchestra is perfectly suited to pleasing connoisseurs while also creating a new audience for classical music.

“Chamber music can be a very accessible, smaller scale introduction to classical music,” he said. “We want to change peoples’ lives in a good way, to make them feel more connected with each other through our music. In this way we want our orchestra to work for everyone in the community.”

For more information on the Lexington Chamber Orchestra, visit its website.

From LCO

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One Comment

  1. Kathleen says:

    Great article, looking forward to these concerts!

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