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Orchestra of NNY celebrating 25 years

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POTSDAM — Kenneth B. Andrews was told the project he envisioned for Northern New York couldn’t be accomplished.

“I had heard from so many people that it would be impossible,” Mr. Andrews said. “I was told by countless people that it wouldn’t last one season — that it had been tried many times.”

On the last weekend of October, the “impossible” will be celebrated when the 25th season begins for the Orchestra of Northern New York. Mr. Andrews has been the orchestra’s musical director since its beginning.

Fittingly, the first concert of the season, to be staged in Potsdam on Oct. 27 and Watertown on Oct. 28, will be one of triumph.

Mr. Andrews said the orchestra had often thought about performing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony but put it on the back burner.

“It’s a real project, so we thought this would be a good year to do it,” Mr. Andrews said.

The concert will feature the combined choirs of Potsdam Community Chorus and the Northern Choral Society.

“It’s not only one of the greatest works of Western civilization, but perhaps one of the real pinnacles for orchestral symphonies, not only of Beethoven works, but for all symphonic music,” Mr. Andrews said.

The concert will be one of four the orchestra will host in Watertown in its 2012-13 season, thanks to a $15,000 grant given by the Watertown-based Northern New York Community Foundation. There are six concerts for the season.

“Each concert is a monumental piece that says something about our history,” Mr. Andrews said.

The orchestra began with a specific purpose.

“When I started the orchestra in 1988, my goal was to have the people of this region be able to hear a professional orchestra without having to travel for several hours,” Mr. Andrews said.

He noted that he’s often asked how the orchestra has survived when others in cities across the country are folding due to financial pressures. The Syracuse Symphony and the Utica Symphony were silenced last year.

“We work very hard to keep the overhead low,” Mr. Andrews said. “That means a lot of work for the few in the organization. We also have a great board and volunteer staff.”

The community support from local businesses, “friends of the orchestra” and SUNY Potsdam also have been key to the orchestra’s success, he said.

The dedicated musicians, Mr. Andrews said, in some cases travel great distances to perform.

When he steps up to the podium to conduct, Mr. Andrews said the style of the music doesn’t matter to him.

“I have no favorites,” he said. “I enjoy it all for different reasons. As a result, putting together programs is a lot of fun. It’s the satisfaction when it all comes together.”

This year’s programs, besides Beethoven’s 9th:

A Holiday Celebration

■ Dec. 14 in Watertown

■ Dec. 15 in Massena

■ Dec. 16 in Potsdam

Mr. Andrews said this concert will feature high school choirs from Potsdam, Canton, Watertown and the Thousand Islands school districts along with students from a few other schools.

The Dec. 15 concert in Massena will feature the Massena High School mixed choir.

The program of classics will include selections from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride,” Victor Herbert’s “Babes in Toyland” and Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.”

The high school choirs will perform Robert Russell Bennett’s “Many Moods of Christmas.”

Greatest Baroque Hits

■ Feb. 9 in Watertown

■ Feb. 10 in Potsdam

Mr. Andrews has presented a Baroque-based concert yearly since the orchestra’s inception.

“This is going to involve a lot of pieces and movements of works and complete works that have been some of the most popular in our 25 years,” he said.

Works will include Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon,” Jean Joseph’s Mouret’s “Fanfare-Rondeau,” which is the theme song to PBS’s “Masterpiece Theatre” and Vivaldi’s concerto “Alla Rustica.”

‘Peter and the Wolf’

■ March 9 in Potsdam

This 1936 composition was written by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev.

“Many people feel it’s one of the greatest children’s stories with music that’s ever been written,” Mr. Andrews said. “It still stands as one of the great pieces of that genre and we thought this would be a good time to celebrate it.”

This family concert will also feature Modest Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” and John Williams’s theme from “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

Performing with the orchestra, as a soloist, will be the winner of the James and Katherine Andrews 7th annual Instrumental Young Artist Competition.

‘West Side Story’

■ April 27 in Potsdam

■ April 28 in Watertown

The works in this concert will range from symphonic dances of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” to a celebration of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

There also will be a flute concertino commissioned for the orchestra’s 25th anniversary by Dr. Luis Canales of Massena. The orchestra’s principal flutist, Jill Rubio, will solo.

‘American pops!’

■ July 3 in Potsdam

This patriotic concert will feature John Williams’s “Liberty Fanfare,” Aaron Copland’s “Hoedown” along with “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Armed Forces Salute.”

Featured soloist will be Potsdam fiddler Gretchen P. Koehler.

tHE DETAILS
WHAT: The Orchestra of Northern New York’s 25th anniversary season.
WHEN: The season begins Oct. 27 in Potsdam and Oct. 28 in Watertown with Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. The 7:30 p.m. Potsdam concert is in Hosmer Hall at SUNY Potsdam and the 3:30 p.m. Watertown concert will be at First Presbyterian Church, 403 Washington St.
The six-concert season concludes July 3 with “American Pops!” in Potsdam.
COST: Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 for senior citizens and $10 for students.
SEASON TICKETS: Prices are two levels, one for Potsdam concerts and one for the four concerts in Watertown.
Season tickets for Potsdam are $106 for adults, $96 for senior citizens and $48 for students age 13 and over. Prices for Watertown are $70 for adults, $64 for senior citizens and $32 for students age 13 and over. Tickets are free for children 12 and under.
Tickets can be ordered by calling the orchestra at 267-2277 or visiting its website at www.onny.org
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